What Managers need to know about Anger in the Workplace

Anger is a perfectly healthy emotion that ranges from mild irritation to intense rage. It’s something we all experience from time to time and can be expressed in different forms ranging from giving someone the cold shoulders to throwing a temper tantrum. In rare cases, anger can send you over the edge.

The consequences of poorly managed anger in the workplace can range from reduced productivity and increased turnover to physical injury and property damage. It is impossible to quantify the cost of anger in the workplace, especially when we factor in lost productivity, employee morale, employee health and safety.

Unless you want to create a culture where employees can wrestle out their problems, it is your responsibility to deal with anger in the workplace. When an employee’s anger escalates to the point of aggressive behavior, the manager needs to know what to do in order to take immediate action. The best course of action to take is to contain the behavior. The important thing to remember is that anger is treatable.

WHAT MANAGERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ANGER OUTBURSTS

Research suggests an angry outburst in the workplace is often situation-specific – i.e. most likely to arise from a combination of factors. Anger outbursts in the workplace can be a result of accumulated hostility, stress, or conflict. In merit-based environments like the workplace, a sensitive employment decision can contribute to workplace violence.

Most of these factors can be identified and address. People who recognize one’s own and others’ emotions can better address anger in the workplace.

anger in the workplace

Episodic and chronic anger outburst in the workplace pose threats and employers must be trained to effectively address them. A study published in 1995 identifies criticism by others, being ignored by others, and being treated unjustly as the primary triggers of respondents who felt anger in the workplace. Workplace anger can manifest in various forms – from inappropriate behavior to violent aggression – and costs organizations resources and productivity.

WHAT MANAGERS NEED TO KNOW

The U.S. government and the courts hold organizations responsible for violence in the workplace when it fails to provide adequate protection to employees. A 2005 American Management Association survey found that 65% of the executive members and customers have a crisis plan for workplace violence and unethical employee behavior. However, these plans are often developed after an incident has occurred in the workplace.

Managers and supervisors need to develop effective techniques for dealing with angry employees. Workplace anger and anger management primarily cover:

  1. To help managers and supervisors deal with angry employees and,
  2. To help employees deal with their own anger issues.

It should be noted that management literature does not always guarantee that an individual will become self-aware of their emotions and address anger in the workplace. Anticipated behaviors of angry or violent employees may not always manifest expected consequences. Managers and supervisors need to be more self-aware of their own reactions to employees’ outbursts and be better prepared to implement the most effective techniques when dealing with angry employees.

While expressing anger may provide short-term emotional relief and the triumph of revenge, the long-term consequences can be career-damaging.

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