How To Handle An Employee Who Overreacts at Your Workplace

Dealing with an angry employee can be a challenging and delicate task. It’s essential to handle the situation professionally, understand the root cause of their anger, and provide the necessary support and resources to help them cope and improve their workplace experience. This blog post offers a comprehensive guide on how to deal with an angry employee, with proven tips and strategies to restore harmony and maintain a positive work environment. It’s crucial for managers to stay calm when dealing with angry employees to ensure a constructive and supportive atmosphere is maintained.

  • Understand and identify angry employees to address the issue promptly.
  • Use active listening, maintain professionalism, investigate root cause of problem & provide resources for resolution.
  • Implement effective communication strategies & collaborative problem solving to restore team harmony in a positive work environment.

How To Deal With Angry Employees

Understanding and Identifying Employees with Negative Emotions

Angry employees can pose a significant threat to the workplace environment, causing disruptions and negatively affecting team dynamics. Recognizing the signs of an angry employee can help managers address the issue before it escalates.

A disgruntled employee may display critical comments, initiate disagreements with colleagues, or disregard requests from coworkers or management. Addressing their grievances, while considering their personal life and workplace environment, can alleviate any discord in the workplace. Understanding the cause of their anger from the employee’s perspective is crucial for effectively addressing and resolving the issue.

Reasons for Employee Anger

There are various triggers for employee anger, which may include:

  • a toxic work environment, sometimes caused by toxic employees
  • disagreement with a colleague
  • extended working hours
  • extreme burnout
  • increased healthcare responsibilities of family members

Understanding the cause of their anger aids in grasping the employee’s perspective and addressing the issue more effectively.

Signs of an Angry Employee

Notable changes in an employee’s conduct and a decrease in productivity can be indicators of an angry employee. Some signs of anger in the workplace include:

  • Passive-aggressive behavior, like subtle comments or actions that are difficult to identify but cause disruptions
  • Increased irritability or short temper
  • Excessive complaining or negativity
  • Withdrawal or isolation from colleagues
  • Increased absenteeism or tardiness

These signs may suggest that an employee is experiencing anger issues, which can lead to bad behavior in the workplace.

Managers should address such behavior directly and compassionately, engaging in a one-on-one dialogue to resolve the situation.

When you’ve got a toxic work environment or a problem with the behavior of a particular employee, it can be hard to know how to handle it. How does a manager or Human Resource professional remain appropriate while also taking an employee’s anger into account? It’s a fine line to tread. While every business will have its own policies and best practices for dealing with an angry employee, there is some common advice that is applicable to most professional workplace situations. No matter your job, there’s something you can learn from this list. So, here are 10 tips for dealing with an angry employee in your company!

1. Acknowledge Feelings, Discourage Bad Behavior

Acknowledging and addressing employees’ negative feelings in a professional manner is crucial, especially since some individuals experience these emotions more intensely due to various factors such as upbringing, culture, or personal issues. It’s important to allow employees the space to express their feelings, but it’s equally important to set clear boundaries around unacceptable behaviors like shouting and swearing. If an employee becomes inappropriate, a response such as: “It’s okay that you’re angry, but I can’t accept you cursing and shouting.” can validate their feelings while also making it clear that certain behaviors are not acceptable. This approach ensures that employees feel heard without escalating the situation into an aggressive confrontation that could have long-term negative consequences.

Effective communication is key when you need to deal with angry employees. Managers should practice active listening and maintain a professional demeanor during conversations with the angry employee.

Active listening involves attentively listening to the employee’s concerns, asking questions to confirm comprehension, and providing feedback to ensure the employee feels heard and understood.

Maintaining professionalism includes staying composed, refraining from personal attacks, and communicating in a professional manner, which means respectfully and politely.

2. Don’t Match Their Escalation (But Let Them Vent)

Although you shouldn’t let employees shout and swear in a way that compromises workplace policy or company culture, do allow the angry employee to vent their feelings to you if your safety isn’t at risk. Everyone gets stressed sometimes, and sometimes we just need to vent our feelings, stress, and frustration to someone who will listen to us. Some difficult people don’t even need or want a solution from you – they just want to get their anger out, feel a sense of relief, and then continue with their job as usual. Obviously, this depends on the situation at hand, but it can happen.

Active listening is instrumental in understanding the employee’s viewpoint and addressing their concerns. By acknowledging their feelings without being patronizing, managers can empathize with the employee and foster a productive dialogue.

Active listening promotes trust and connection, making it an invaluable tool in resolving conflicts with angry employees.

Remaining composed and professional during interactions with agitated employees is imperative. Managers should:

  • Avoid raising their voices
  • Avoid yelling
  • Avoid swearing
  • Avoid descending to the same level as the angry employee

Demonstrating professionalism helps manage the situation in an organized fashion and sets the stage for a constructive resolution. Additionally, it’s crucial for managers to regulate their own emotions to maintain professionalism and effectively de-escalate tense situations, ensuring they don’t let personal emotions lead to hasty decisions.

3. Try To See Things From The Employee’s Perspective

Managers and bosses are so used to looking at work situations in a cold, objective manner that it can be difficult for them to step back and see an issue from the perspective of the employee it affects. If an angry employee comes to you with concerns and stress, take a step back, put yourself in their shoes, and try to see things from their perspective. It’s not as easy as it sounds! HR professionals know how important this is – try to imagine how you would feel if you were them in this exact same situation. At the same time, you need to see their point of view and try to sympathize WITHOUT sounding patronizing – there’s a fine line between the two.

Upon understanding the cause of the employee’s anger, managers can start addressing the issue and work towards a resolution. Examining the broader context, considering the entire organization, and the professional relationship between the employee and the company, is vital in this process.

Managers should review any prior documented performance issues before interacting with the employee to determine the best course of action.

The manager should thoroughly investigate the issue by gathering information and identifying potential solutions to the problem. This may involve examining the employee’s work quality and the employee’s behavior before and after any potential event that may have impacted their attitude towards the workplace.

Understanding the root cause of the problem helps managers address the issue more effectively.

4. Thank The Team Member For Their Feedback

Even if you’re getting terrible feedback from an angry employee, it’s useful to think about it as constructive criticism. The more that people criticize your work, the more that you’re able to make changes and improve. Even if your ego is a little damaged, thank the team member for their feedback in a calm, respectful manner. Every complaint from an employee is an opportunity to improve. Think positively! It takes a lot of courage to openly complain to your superior, so thank them for their courage and for giving you the opportunity to make changes as a manager.

Promoting open communication within the workplace has numerous advantages, including heightened employee engagement, increased trust in expressing feelings and feedback, and fostering creativity and innovation.

Encouraging a culture of open communication can help avert and manage employee anger by creating an environment where employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns and grievances.

5. Repeat Their Problem Back To Them (Ensure Good Communication)

Industry experts and HR professionals recommend that after an angry employee has told you about their issue or frustrating situation, you should make sure that you repeat the problem back to them in your own words. For example, you might say: “So if I understand it correctly, you are annoyed because of situation A with person B and you would like me to help by doing X, Y, and Z”. Depending on the conversation, you might only have so much information that you can repeat back to them or if things are very heated then it might be best to avoid this altogether. At is the case with these things, it all depends on the situation and just how worked up the angry employee is.

Cultivating a supportive company culture can generate a positive work atmosphere, leading to increased employee involvement, heightened morale, and enhanced job satisfaction, all in line with the company policy.

This supportive environment can help deter employee anger by providing a sense of purpose and inclusion, while also assisting in managing existing anger issues by offering the necessary resources and support to resolve their problems.

6. Apologize To The Employee (If Necessary)

Give the employee an honest apology for the frustration they’re feeling (if it pertains to the situation). Even if the problem they’re having is not directly your fault, say something that shows you’re listening to their voice and you’re sorry to hear what they’re saying. For example, “I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through that, we need to make some changes in the workplace.” Again, this can sound condescending if you’re not careful, so make sure you say it in the right way and don’t make it sound forced or insincere. An insincere apology would be worse than no apology at all!

7. Create Actionable Steps For Change

Many angry employee-manager conversations can actually lead to positive changes in the working environment that allow problems to be solved through a series of actions that improve the company culture and workplace environment. You might not be able to do it immediately, but be sure to take the situation into account and start drafting actionable, tangible tasks that allow you to help make positive changes to your employee and their environment. For example, it might be something like:

  • Rearranging the employee rota
  • Making changes to company policy
  • Having meetings with problematic team members
  • Promoting/demoting an employee
  • Buying new/better equipment for the employee

Most problems that an employee brings to your attention will have some sort of solution that can help you to make positive change. Even if you can’t solve their problem instantly, you can start building toward a better future that decreases the issue dramatically. As well as being good for business, this can help to build your trust and relationship with the disgruntled employee – they’ll be happy that you actually are trying to change for them, even if the changes aren’t always perfect or effective. Trust from your employees is invaluable, as you should know!

8. Follow Up With the Employee at a Later Date

After a colleague has aired their issue and you have agreed to try and make changes to the workplace in response to the thing they complained about, be sure to follow up with the employee in a private meeting at a later date. This could be 2 weeks, 2 months later, or even 1 year later – it all depends on the situation that caused the problem and how quickly it can be resolved. Holding a private meeting with the employee after the fact helps you to see whether your changes have helped and it further reinforces your trust and bond with the worker. Employees will respect a manager who keeps tabs on them and checks how they’re doing on a regular basis, whether it’s in response to work issues or not.

9. Hold Regular 1-on-1 Review Meetings With Team Members

In a similar vein, addressing and managing an employee’s behavior is crucial, especially when it comes to holding regular meetings with your employees regardless of whether they are airing their work issues or not. In fact, this is a great way to get the opinions of every person in your office separately in a 1-on-1 meeting scenario where quieter and shyer employees may feel more confident talking about their problems. Makes sense! By holding these regular meetings, you’re more likely to catch problems and negative attitude before they become an issue that leads to toxic employees in the first place!

Addressing an angry employee can indeed impact the team’s feelings and overall team dynamic, including other employees. Managers need to minimize this impact by extending support to affected colleagues and striving to restore team unity.

By addressing the disgruntled employee, managers can demonstrate to the rest of the team that they are attentive to any issues that may arise, potentially eliminating negativity and preserving the company culture.

Supporting Affected Colleagues

Managers should ensure that colleagues affected by the angry employee’s behavior receive support and resources to help them cope with the situation. Promoting open communication, providing access to Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), and offering training and development opportunities can help colleagues manage the impact of the angry employee on their work and well-being.

These resources can help colleagues better understand the situation and develop strategies to cope with angry people.

Restoring Team Harmony

To restore team harmony after incidents involving angry employees, managers should focus on:

  • Implementing effective communication strategies
  • Addressing the issue through collaborative problem-solving
  • Providing support and resources to affected colleagues

These actions can help create a more positive work environment, fostering trust and respect between team members and ultimately leading to a more harmonious and effective work environment.

10. If Necessary, Fire Someone

Terminating toxic or problematic employees shouldn’t be your first solution to a business problem, but it may be the necessary solution if things don’t improve. If one badly-behaved employee is causing grief for everyone else on your team, try your best to warn them and give them chance to change. However, if change doesn’t come, then you may need to terminate them for the good of the team. The energy employees put into their company can be catchy, so a poor employee can drag everyone else down with them. If warnings and advice fail, it’s probably best to get rid of the “bad apple” employee in search of someone more positively influential. It’s for the good of the business. Additionally, being vigilant about signs of workplace violence and taking proactive measures is crucial to ensure the safety of all employees. This includes creating a safety plan, training employees on warning signs, and involving HR to support the situation effectively.

The Bottom Line – How Can A Manager Handle An Angry Employee in a Professional Manner?

There are many different reasons that an employee may be angry – from bad coworkers to outdated equipment and improper work systems. Whatever reasons are behind their dismay, remember to hear their concerns and try your best to see things from their point of view while considering positive changes that could be made based on the feedback. With these tips, you’ll have the ammunition you need to deal with an angry employee in a manner that is safe, professional, and constructive.

Managing angry employees is no easy task, but with the right strategies, resources, and support, managers can effectively address the issue and maintain a positive work environment. By understanding the root cause of the employee’s anger, communicating effectively, offering support and resources, and implementing positive change within the organization, managers can help prevent future instances of employee anger and promote a healthier, more productive workplace.

In conclusion, dealing with angry employees is a challenge every manager may face at some point. By following the proven tips and strategies outlined in this blog post, managers can successfully navigate these difficult situations, restore team harmony, and ensure that every employee feels heard and supported, thereby maintaining a positive work environment for all employees.

How do you deal with an employee with anger issues?

When dealing with an employee with anger issues, it is important to acknowledge their feelings, let them vent, and try to understand things from their perspective.

However, it is also necessary to discourage bad behavior, respond with training, confront inappropriate and threatening behavior, document incidents, and have a zero tolerance policy.

How do you respond to a disgruntled employee?

Remain professional, acknowledge the employee’s feelings, listen carefully, and focus on solving problems.

Ask for clarification if needed, make a note of issues, and thank the team member for their feedback.

What are some common triggers for employee anger?

Employee anger can often be triggered by a toxic work environment, disagreements with colleagues, long working hours, burnout, and additional healthcare responsibilities of family members.

These issues can lead to a decrease in productivity, a decrease in morale, and an increase in absenteeism. It is important for employers to recognize these issues and take steps to address them.

One way to do this is to create a culture.

How can managers effectively communicate with angry employees?

Managers should listen actively and remain professional during conversations with angry employees to effectively communicate.

It is important for managers to remain calm and collected during these conversations, as it can help to de-escalate the situation. They should also be sure to listen to the music.

What resources and support in the work environment can help angry employees cope with their emotions?

Employee Assistance Programs, training and development opportunities, and access to resources such as books, articles, and videos on anger management can help employees cope with their emotions.

These resources can be used to help employees understand their emotions and how to manage them in a healthy way. They can also provide support and guidance to help employees develop better coping strategies.

By providing these resources, employers can create a more positive work environment.

Tehsin Bhayani

AirMason was born when Tehsin was trying to create a digital culture book, but couldn’t find any solutions in the market that had all the features he needed. In 2016, AirMason officially launched. In five years, AirMason has created thousands of handbooks for more than 1,000 clients around the world.

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