It should never get this far. In the past month, French workers in facilities owned by Sony, Caterpillar, 3M, and the retailer PPR, have taken their bosses hostage. The primary purpose of these bossnappings was to get these executives back to the bargaining table.
These actions are a symptom of a growing contempt for executives sweeping Europe and the U.S. It is spurred on by reports of corporate leaders who have taken bonus pay at a time when workers are being laid off in growing numbers, executives arrested for corruption and theft, and managers being insensitive to the plight of their employees. And all of these reports are propelled by the twitterization of information: opinions about the comments and actions of bosses are instantly communicated to the world. Lucy Kellaway writes in FT.com:
Workers of the world are uniting, not so much to lose their chains but to get back at their bosses. Anti-boss rage is more in vogue than it has ever been in my lifetime and I find I'm watching the petulant display with alternate surges of glee and discomfort. The rage itself seems fair enough; the problem is the choice of outlets, some of which are more appealing than others.
These still rare but growing number of examples of workers acting out should be a wakeup call for all managers. Communicate with your employees. Show respect for your employees. Give employees a reason to trust you. Otherwise, you might find yourself virtually, if not literally, locked out of a productive working relationship with the people who mean the most to the success of your organization.