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Anger in the Workplace

What manager doesn’t dread the idea of dealing with an angry employee?

How do you respond to an employee who is obviously angry?  What if your employee yells at you?  Should you yell back?  Maybe just walk away until they calm down?  Or, you can stand there and let them vent.

Here are a few tips on confronting  a difficult employee at the height of their rampage:

1.  Stay as calm as possible.
Take a deep breath and remember that you need to gain control of the situation as best as you can.  Taking deep breaths will help you to…

2. Attempt to calm your employee down.
Let him or her know that you want to listen to their concerns but you can’t hear their concerns while they are yelling.

3. Bring your employee to a private area.
Communicate to your employee that you want to sit down in a private area such as a conference room or your office in order to maintain their privacy and to give them your undivided attention.  Once you are in a private area…

4. Establish some ground rules for the conversation.
Explain that in order to fully understand why they are so upset, that they should stop yelling so that you can hear and understand what they have to say. Establish your expectations around the discussion:  neither of you will interrupt the other when speaking and that yelling is inappropriate and won’t be tolerated.

5. Listen to what your employee has to say.
Don’t be afraid to take notes and ask questions during the discussion.

6. Let your employee know what happens next.
Respond to your employee’s concerns if  appropriate.  If you need to look into concerns further, let your employee know that you will need time to investigate their complaint.

7.  End the meeting by thanking your employee for giving you an opportunity to talk about their concerns.

It’s also critical that you remind your employee that their angry behavior prior to the meeting is unacceptable behavior in the workplace and that you’ll be discussing their behavior further at a second meeting.

If you have a policy on inappropriate workplace behavior, (and you should), you’ll want to remind your employee of the company policy and that you’ll need to address their behavior after you’ve had some time to sort out their poor behavior from the original issue.

Schedule the meeting either later in the day or the next day at the latest.  Use the second meeting to reinforce the company’s policy on inappropriate workplace behavior.  If appropriate, follow through on corrective action; being sure to keep the employee’s issue and their behavior separate.

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Dianne Shaddock

President and Founder at Easy Small Business HR
Get more tips on interviewing, hiring, managing and engaging your employees. Dianne Shaddock is the President of Easy Small Business HR, Employee Hiring and Managing Tips and the author of the eGuides, "How To Supervise:  What Your Boss Never Told You Before You Took the Job", A Step-By-Step Guide For New and Seasoned Managers and How To Find and Hire the Best Employees.

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