This question embodies various issues involved in the average business meeting. Smith's outburst to a more veteran manager who had decided to treat Smith as a junior rather than someone in the meeting to orient themselves, highlights various issues within a business organization. The issues can be summarized as follows:
- Managerial Control in a meeting
This would appear to be central to everything. If the senior managers cannot control the meetings of their own staff, it does not bode well for the rest of the company.
Managers should be able to take control if only to limit the damage done when someone does have an outburst. Clearly, this was the case with Smith's outburst, and how it is handled afterwards is the key.
- Correct procedures involved in a meeting
Clear guidelines should be in place to allow free communication, but only within ethical guidelines. These should be enforced by the chairing manager(s).
Procedures should also address the needs of someone who has been unjustly criticized to the extent that the redress of the complaint should give personal satisfaction and not diminish or belittle the recipient of the criticism.
- How do you complain about other staff?
Again, procedures should be in place. If there aren't any, or if they are not enforced, this can lead to chaotic meetings with recriminations and acrimony.
- How does the outburst affect others?
Did Smith's outburst make a difference? It could certainly highlight shortcomings in the board room procedures. The lack of any restraint on the uninformed opinions of the criticizing manager has been shown up. They could now feel it is correct to complain openly in meetings, and thereby disrupting them as well as breaking with protocol.
Did they agree with Smith's assessment of the manager? What would they do if they were the subject of an outburst? All of these issues require examination.