Crying at work: It’s natural and might even be a good thing

As a manager, you’re used to dealing with a variety of employee personalities and dispositions. So what happens when you stroll by an employee’s cubicle and you hear the unmistakable sounds of muffled crying? Do you say something? Do you just turn around and walk away? Awkward, to say the least. But your response could be an important test of your ability to manage your team.

According to a recent Monster poll, 8 in 10 workers admit to crying at work, so it’s a situation you’re more than likely to encounter. Knowing how to handle those situations takes superior management skills. A good manager can even use them to improve employee-relations. We’re talking about emotional intelligence here.

It’s personal (but you knew that)

According Anne Kreamer, author of It’s Always Personal: Navigating Emotion In the Workplace, people cry at work all the time. They may be going through an emotional rough patch – like losing a loved one or suffering in divorce.

Often, however, they’re frustrated with their jobs. That’s where a manager’s emotional intelligence can make a difference. Being able to identify work-related triggers for why an employee is crying at work gives a perceptive manager the ability to find solutions and workarounds. Not only can this improve employees’ job satisfaction level and performance, but it can also earn their trust and respect.

In a survey of 700 employees, Kreamer found that 41 percent of women said they had cried at work. Nine percent of men admitted they did it, too. Men largely reported that they cried at work for personal reasons — like an illness in the family, or the death of a pet. A “large majority” of women said it was “something that happened at work — being unfairly blamed or criticized, someone else taking credit for work — that made them cry.”

For a manager, the job is to understand why an employee is crying before doing anything about it. Is it because some people are naturally emotional beings when they get hurt? Or is it a work problem – like frustration with hitting their head against a glass ceiling?

A poor fit?

When an employee unloads emotionally over work-related reasons, that’s when a manager has to take note. Literally. Notes. It could be a serious matter for human resources and documentation could be the key to achieving the best outcome for everyone involved.

But if a worker breaks down repeatedly, it could also be a sign the employee can’t handle the job. Whether it’s frustration or depression, they may need professional help.

“An employee often crying over work-related matters is usually a sign of a poor fit with the role,” said Miki Feldman-Simon, founder of a company serving women re-entering the workforce. “Work itself should not make one cry.”

That doesn’t mean it’s time to show them the door. Time off, counseling, or just an empathetic ear can change their world. And after they’ve had a good cry, maybe it’s time for a new assignment.

Hiring the right candidates should bring you to tears — of joy

The best managers know how to get the best out of their teams. When one member is struggling, a good boss doesn’t yell. She listens and tries to understand why an employee may be crying at work. Get a better handle on management strategies to deal with these situations as well as effective approaches when it comes to workplace hiring by signing up for Monster Hiring Solutions.