The Crying Man in the Fetal Position – A Lesson in the management of people


In leadership roles you need to handle many employee issues – but what about handling the Crying Man in the Fetal Position!

I had recently transferred from my comfy role in procurement and found myself responsible for a large the Crying Manproduction facility. In the professional world of procurement you get used to dealing with many types of characters.  Part of your role is to influence both internal and external stakeholders, many of which present some challenging relationships. But I was somewhat unprepared for this crisis.

The Crying Man

A supervisor came to my office with a major conundrum. David (not his real name) a senior production worker was crying in the fetal position between two of or busiest production lines. It was causing quite a disturbance and could I please help sort it out. I then had a picture of a man in his mid-fifties amongst 20 plus production workers and me (the new guy from procurement) coming to sort it out. Oh Boy!

Skipping that University Course

As I was walking down trying to figure out what I was going to doing I thought to myself that I must have skipped that class on how to deal with crying men in fetal positions. So what to do?

(Empathy versus sympathy) “David (still not his real name) I see you are rather upset.  Can I offer you some privacy away from everyone and could you come to my office?” He readily agreed. While in my office we had an interesting conversation, though to this day I’m not sure what it was about but I did listen. After calming him down I suggested that from my experience when things are not going great I look to change my environment. I offered to have a friend and he go home for the rest of the day and then we could start fresh in the morning.

Speaking to him the next day it did turn out fresh in the morning and my first crisis was diverted and a friend made.

Gary Lajoie is an end to end supply chain professional with expertise in procurement, manufacturing & distribution. Renowned for improving margins by relying on Lean techniques and innovative thinking to progress the organization’s cost saving activities beyond the idea of “picking the low hanging fruit” and uncovering great opportunities “buried in the roots”. Described for his ability to balance the culture and vision of the organization with a hard driving passion for eliminating excess found, but seldom noticed, throughout the supply chain

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