In 2022, after a tumultuous two years, anger management issues in the workplace are prevalent. Despite the new world that we find ourselves living in, the personal and professional challenges that we faced pre-pandemic have not dissipated.
It is true that everyone, from time to time, will become angry in a business setting. As a responsible business leader, it is important that you define the methods that you will use to contain and manage anger in the workplace. By being proactive, you will be better equipped to deal with behaviour that, if left unchecked, could prove to be problematic for your employees and business performance.
No ‘one-size’ method can be applied to every situation. Different contexts provide different challenges, but by using the following methods you may help to mitigate workplace anger.
Empathy goes a long way. Showing staff that you are eager to understand where they come from is vitally important. Aim to find the principal cause of issues with employees. Always be patient and, if you happen to make any mistakes in trying to find a solution, be upfront and take responsibility.
Empathy is not about enabling and legitimising the employee’s behaviour, but addressing it together on common ground. When an employee has an outburst, it can be difficult to default to an empathetic mode. If you do so, you should find that resolutions are met faster and prove beneficial for all stakeholders.
Create the Right Work Environment
Creating a work culture that encourages warmth, empathy and respect among colleagues can help to mitigate anger management issues in the long run. This is not something that is guaranteed to stop anger problems in the workplace (nor is any method on this list) but is a good place to start. The environment in which employees work has a vast impact on how they feel. Not only is it important for improving productivity, but it also serves to protect their emotional health. We do spend a third of our lives working.
If you do not create a balanced, collaborative and kind workplace, you may find that employees are overworked and even isolated. By virtue of this, you may find staff to be more generally angry. As is the case with so much in business, taking a proactive approach to managing anger is the right one.
We all want to feel heard. If an employee is trying to give constructive feedback, it is important to encourage it. If there is an open avenue on which to speak and be heard, it is far less likely that staff will bottle up their feelings. Harvard Business Review tells us that “To succeed in life and in leadership, we need to act powerfully in the context of strong emotions and still have the impact we intend.” Addressing the root cause of anger is often the best way of dealing with it and giving employees the opportunity to express themselves in a professional way should help.
This is important for all organisations, but even more so in businesses where the hierarchy is more rigid. Having two-way communication lanes between all staff is vital and will ensure that no matter how junior the employee, they never feel like they do not have a say.
“Leading by example is crucial when it comes to anger management issues. How you act in front of your staff directly shapes how your staff will act towards you or others.”
Set the Correct Example
If you are being openly dismissive or impertinent towards staff, you are setting the wrong example for those who may be feeling angry. Not only that, but you may also be inciting feelings of stress or anger among your employees.
Leading by example is crucial when it comes to anger management issues. How you act in front of your staff directly shapes how your staff will act towards you or others. If you are disagreeing with somebody, or have found yourself in a stressful situation, aim to deal with it in a collected and professional manner. By setting the right examples, regardless of how big or small the issues are, you should hopefully see employees follow suit with their own problems.
Have Disciplinary Procedures in Place
It is important to have disciplinary procedures in place for dealing with repeat patterns of behaviour where intense or disruptive anger is involved.
Nobody wants to have to resort to official disciplinary procedures. This was reflected in our recent LinkedIn poll, where only 7% of respondents signaled disciplinary procedures as being their preferred method of managing anger in the workplace.
Regardless, when it comes to incidences that involve unrestrained and truculent anger, it is vitally important that an official disciplinary process is in place. Equally important is knowing the point at which to utilise your procedure. In general, disciplinary procedures are referred to when there has been a flagrant violation of company policy, or when all other methods of managing anger have failed.
All staff should be trained in how to deal with anger management issues in the workplace. Employees should be taught how to respond calmly and professionally to anger, and those at senior level should be empowered to handle situations where a staff member is being aggressive or threatening towards others.
Similarly, businesses should seek to train employees on common anger management strategies, such as identifying triggers, evaluating anger, and recognising the warning signs. In doing so you will hopefully empower your employees to manage their own anger when it arises.
Consider asking staff to take a Multidimensional Anger Test, to test their susceptibility to anger. Applications like Calm and Headspace are useful proactive tools for managing stress and anger, and there are many any other practical tools and courses available for free online.