Mood Swings in the Workplace

Moody at Work

Can “Debbie downers” affect your productivity?

We all, from time to time, get out of bed on the wrong side when work is the last place where you want to be, right? Perfectly normal. But, when mood swings and outbursts cause a hostile work environment, or alienate clients; well, then you have a problem.

The ultimate goal is to develop a work environment that helps all employees reach their full potential. Maintaining a positive attitude at work is often cited as one of the keys to success. However, both positive and negative emotions can be contagious, especially in the workplace. Fact is, when working in groups, employees tend to “catch” emotions from each other, and those moods can affect the decisions they make at the office.

So, if a co-worker’s irritability affects performance and collaborative work during projects, it’s time to confront the situation head on. Here’s how:

Be sure to have clear boundaries and be vocal about how moodiness affects the morale of the office. Have a no excuse policy on poor team work. Accountability needs to be taken for how mood swings affect work responsibilities. Set an example and encourage the feelgood factor. Encourage your staff to take regular short breaks. A short motivational team meeting could kick the day off on a positive note. A good idea is to introduce exercise into the office environment. Exercise releases feelgood endorphins. Suggest a “walking meeting”. Observe and evaluate. Collect the facts before you act. Confront the problem, remember everyone on your team is watching and waiting. Don’t be afraid to tell the co-worker that they make others uncomfortable, focus on the hostile behaviour, not on the person. Start by talking to the employee about how outbursts affect the team. Ask questions about their triggers and what support they need; create an environment where people feel able to have a dialogue about their wellbeing. Be flexible, if working from home for a while is an option, be open to that. Introduce change. Moody employees may welcome a new challenge. Assign them to visit a field office or encourage them to attend a seminar. By forcing them to break out of their predictable routines, you might invigorate them.

Also, always be mindful when you are in over your head. An employee may have psychological health issues that require professional help.

A culture of respect and dignity in the workplace ensures a healthy work environment.

Although dealing with a moody co-worker is never fun, you have the right to expect performance at an acceptable level. Ultimately a timely, deliberate approach to navigating these awkward situations will help you to succeed.





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