The workplace is a melting pot of personalities with a full range of human emotions, making it impossible to avoid negative situations. “At some point most managers will need to address an employee with inappropriate behaviour or aggression,” says Psychologist Dan Martin of Personal Enrichment Services.
Martin’s expertise in anger assessment and counselling makes his seven strategies in dealing with angry employees a must read for all managers.
Is it Urgent?
Does the situation need to be addressed immediately? Often it does not. Schedule a time to meet with the employee where you can have quiet uninterrupted time to talk.
If an employee is becoming aggressive in a meeting or other public space you may need to redirect them. Statements like “Let’s take this off line or I hear you have some strong opinions about this can we talk more after the meeting?” may be useful in the moment.
Privacy is Important
. Once you are ready to talk to the employee make sure you are alone i.e. not in a public location. That could be embarrassing or further provoke the employee. The only exception is if you truly did have safety concerns. Then you may wish to have someone else meet with you and the employee.
Stay on Topic.
The tone of your conversation is best kept to observational or even third person comments. The idea is to focus on the behaviour or a specific topic not let the conversation drift into comments about character or about the person. If personal statements are made redirect back to the topic.
Listen to Their Concerns
. As with many conversations one of the most valuable questions is “Can you tell me why you feel this way?”. Once you have opened this part of the conversation you need to sit back and listen, be empathetic and try to understand their perspective. You can’t address any issue until you truly understand it. This also allows the employee to feel heard and appreciated which will help build goodwill.
. Invite the employee to propose solutions that would move the situation forward. Beyond diffusing the situation this is also helping develop the employee as a future leader. Not just bringing a problem but also bringing a solution. This could work well whether the source of anger is a colleague, policy or some other stakeholder.
Suggest Further Help if Appropriate
. It may be helpful for you to suggest that the employee seek help with their emotional coping. Be sensitive to how this is phrased so that it doesn’t come across as “you are broken or bad”. It is best to come from a place of concern and suggest growth and personal development.
A counsellor or psychologist may help them address their emotions. Also, this provides a bit of distance between home and work matters. The true source of their frustration may not lie at work but may be due to family problems. Suggesting a psychologist can be helpful as screening for signs of depression is routine and anger can be a sign of clinical depression.
If you want to enhance your coping skills in dealing with angry, upset or difficult employees or colleagues the Anger Management course from Australian Online Courses is an excellent resource. It’s also an ideal personal development course for employees who need further help with difficult emotions.
Anger Management is an online course that will help you learn how to identify anger triggers and the coping and planning techniques to help manage anger. This personal development course will also help managers and group leaders to develop strategies to manage angry, upset and difficult people in the workplace or recreational settings.