Anger in the workplace is a very real situation in many businesses. Employees either come to work each day with anger issues stemming from their personal lives, or they are frustrated with what is happening in the office and take it out on their co-workers and employer. Let’s face it, many of us spend more time at work than at home, so it’s normal that this is where angry feelings will be vented. Much of it is passive-aggressive behavior like purposely trying to avoid new responsibilities, withholding important information to make other’s look bad, arriving late and/or leaving early, or slacking off on meeting deadlines. We also are hearing more and more about outright violent behavior in the workplace. As an employer, there are some techniques that are useful when trying to deal with angry people or when you find yourself retaliating for another’s bad behavior.
1. Do your best to create an environment in which your employees feel comfortable speaking with you face to face. Make a point of connecting with employees as often as possible in person. If you only use email, it makes it easier for them to continue the negative behavior without having a confrontation with you.
2. Be proactive and monitor the pulse of the workplace. Pay attention to what employees are saying about each other and management so you aren’t taken by surprise by angry behavior.
3. Set clear goals and expectations for each of your employees about what their responsibilities are, what kind of work you are expecting and their deadlines so they aren’t taken by surprise. Allow for honest feedback. If you are open to a discussion about it, there is less chance that they bottle up their anger and less room for excuses.
4. Be responsible for your own behavior and don’t engage with someone who is acting out with. Redirect yourself by taking a step away from the situation. Get some fresh air, take a walk, or go for lunch to simmer down and regroup before responding.
5. Don’t be afraid to apologize for your uncontrolled anger, even if you are the boss. Some people think that acknowledging inappropriate behavior might lessen their employees respect for them. Instead, if you show that you care about how others perceive you and are humble enough to recognize your negative actions, it will create a stronger bond and gain their trust.
Following some or all of these steps can greatly improve morale and help manage conflict from escalating. If you feel anger or are having trouble dealing with an angry employee, co-worker or boss, go to your human resource department. Many companies offer free assistance by providing limited therapy with a qualified therapist or by offering an online anger management program. An online anger class that is current and designed by a specialist in the field offers the employee the chance to learn new anger and stress management skills in the privacy of their own home. Online classes can be taken any time and are self-paced. Dealing effectively with anger in the workplace is crucial to the success of the business and to each individual’s chances of becoming an effective leader.