Anger is a normal human emotion and a natural reaction to a difficult situation, and as such, is not unusual at work. However, some people may have difficulty controlling this feeling, resulting in angry outbursts.
When someone’s frustration is disrupting workflow or impacting morale, it is important to take action. Here are some suggestions for addressing anger at work:
- Consult with Human Resources. Review any relevant policies.
- Meet privately with the employee. Outline your concerns about their behavior. Sample language: “I noticed that you became angry yesterday when (describe event). Could you provide your perspective on what happened?”
- Allow the team member to vent. Listen to what the person has to say without judgment or interruption. Allowing time to “let the fizz out of the bottle” may dissipate feelings of anger. It may also help pinpoint issues within your team, such as problems with workflow or harassment by another employee, that may need to be addressed.
- Express understanding. Acknowledge that the anger may have been justified, but the outburst was not. Sample language: “It makes sense that you would be upset by (incident). However, your reaction to the situation is not acceptable at work.”
- Make a plan. Ask the person to think about better ways to manage anger in the future. Encourage the employee to let you know if they are struggling. Sample language: “What actions can you take to prevent an outburst from occurring again?”
- Communicate expectations. Consult with Human Resources before taking any disciplinary action. Sample language: “I expect (describe behavior) in the future. If you are feeling overwhelmed and need a few minutes, please let me know and I will do what I can to help. However, if another incident occurs, (outline consequences).”
- Refer the employee to LifeMatters. Consider making a performance referral that will assist the employee with improving their workplace behavior. Sample language: “LifeMatters can help you deal with anger. I recommend you give them a call.”
- Follow up. Check in with the individual to discuss any performance improvements. In addition, consider addressing team or workplace issues that may have contributed to the person’s outburst.
Please note: If the employee has engaged in violent or threatening behavior, seek immediate assistance from HR or security. Always follow organizational procedures.