Last night on the season finale of “The Office,” Sabre CEO Jo Bennett flew in from Florida to figure out who leaked the news about the company’s fire-prone printers to the media — and fire the guilty party on the spot.
While Jo, flanked by her absurd Great Danes, interrogates the staff, first as a group and then one-0n-one, the new IT guy rushes around downloading everything off of every computer in the office to see if someone e-mailed the information.
Michael conducts his own investigation and discovers:
- Darryl told a girl at a bar — she turned out to be a copy editor at the local paper.
- Pam told another mom at day care — her husband turned out to be a reporter.
- Kelly broadcast it over just about every form of social media known to man.
Turns out, it was Andy, who:
- Did the experiment that proved the printers caught on fire just two weeks ago.
- Everyone was blaming all along.
- Earlier said, “Even if I thought our printers killed baby seals, I wouldn’t be a whistle-blower.”
- Wrote an e-mail to the editor of the local paper from his work computer.
Andy sulks but is happy when Erin tells him he did the right thing. I’m sure he’s not really fired and will be back first thing in the fall. Meanwhile, Michael bonds with Jo as he offers to be the face on the shame of the printer scandal.
All seems relatively well in Scranton, so we can rest easily over the summer hiatus.
But what about real companies with whistle-blowers?
In some situations, whistle-blowing is the only way to right a wrong. But I think — and maybe I’m too much of an optimist — that most companies do want to make things right and deserve a chance to do so. Therefore, I would hope that people would take more steps internally than Andy did to see that such a situation gets righted before taking the news to the media.
I would also hope that people would be more careful about where — and to whom — they talk about possibly sensitive workplace issues — as Jason Seiden so wisely advised on his blog earlier this week.
I’m guessing that the whole mess could have been avoided in two simple steps:
- Training employees on how to handle potentially sensitive workplace information and how to report problems — such as incendiary printers — to the higher-ups.
- Communicating with employees about those higher-ups’ plans to handle such problems.
Does your company implement these important steps to protect its reputation and information? If so, how? If not, why?
Image credit, NBC