Ideally speaking, working adults would know how to effectively manage their emotions, deciding when and how to release their frustration so as not to disrupt their responsibilities. And yet, high tension and emotional outburst are sometimes inevitable. Some employees might express their anger through visible actions, while some others might grumble and gossip with colleagues, or vent out their dissatisfaction on social media. Nonetheless, angry employees are not pleasant to deal with, but as a skilled leader, you should develop a calm reaction and turn things around.
Being irritated at work is often a catalyst to a bad attitude that might lead to a cycle of negative outcomes. Employees will pass this negative energy to a less productive workforce, affect employee morale, and even disrupt the team’s internal dynamics if the outrage is left unaddressed. Before things get out of control, HR leaders should learn some practical methods to manage angry employees.
One key approach to handling angry employees is to avoid getting emotional and using offensive language. It’s not always big things that make employees angry, many at times they are just silly mistakes that set the fire in workplaces. Leaders need to realize that there are sensitive topics that might trigger employees to overreact on things, so you have to manage the situation with empathy. Instead of viewing anger as bad behavior, start perceiving it as a valuable critique and input that leads to a better workplace in the future. It is important to make the employees feel understood, and their justification at times is not all wrong but worth a thought and consideration.
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Invite the angry employee to a mediation in a closed room to get down to the subtleties of the issues that are bothering them. Be it dissatisfaction with incentives, questioning the mandatory ‘work-from-office’ rule, or other things, take time to learn what really makes them disgruntled. Then, find out what makes them excited and happy, as well as a way to make the work environment better for them. You should not come off as intimidating, so remain calm and let them know that you will try your best to help them. A close problem-solving approach will avoid gossip rumor mills circulating around the workplace. After all, a conducive working environment will encourage everyone to thrive and sustain productivity levels.
Listening to concerns is one thing, but making sure issues are solved requires genuine efforts from you as a manager. In fact, this is actually what the employees want most. When the issue involves other coworkers, invite them to participate in the mediation and seek the best solution for all. If the issue is about the company management, it is preferable to report the complaint and have detailed discussions and careful thought on the matter before making a major decision.
As conflicts often arise when people do not completely understand their positions or when their tasks overlap with those of others, leaders can help make the workforce achieve mutual understanding by making a list of everyone’s expectations. That way, employees will understand what they are meant to do and what is expected from them. Alternatively, this might be used as an evaluation sheet in the future to seek better policies and fair employee treatment.
Is your job done once your employees become less angry? Not yet. Indeed, once the issues are resolved, employees should get back to work. But you still need to make sure that they are satisfied with the solutions offered. Keep track of issues happening in the company. Mediation, solution, and termination are needed to protect the company from any unwanted lawsuits. Such follow-up action is important to win the employees’ trust back in the company and business goals. If there is still any unsolved matter, HR managers and employers should address them promptly and seek better solutions.
Companies will quickly see increased engagement levels and productivity increases if they can regain their employees’ confidence. This is why you cannot afford to ignore the issue of angry employees within your workplace, especially since it is your duty as an HR manager. It is not always difficult to deal with angry employees; rather, it is a matter of planning and diplomacy.
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