Anger Management in the Workplace

What is anger?  According to merriam-webster.com (n.d.), anger is “a strong feeling of displeasure and usually of antagonism”.  This emotion is not necessarily characterized by raised voices and violent physical action… but in some instances or for some people, the ability to control emotions is difficult to manage.

Most of us deal with anger in some shape or form on a regular basis- whether our own while sitting in traffic, racing the clock on a tight deadline, or coming into contact with angry family members or peers.  But when anger becomes an issue in the workplace, the situation may get a little sticky for employers.  Because an employee may have been diagnosed with a behavioral or mental condition, they may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act and any attempt by the employer to ‘correct’ or discipline the employee could easily be placed under scrutiny.

On the other hand, lack of effort to avoid or control anger outbursts in the workplace could be placing other employees at emotional and/or physical risk.  While there are many options in managing the emotional health of your employees, consider the following ideas:

  • Keep an open door policy.  Encourage employees to bring their complaints to upper management- and allow them to vent in a controlled environment.  Be prepared to listen closely to your employee, ask questions to clarify your understanding of their grudge and respond calmly and without bias to attempt to rectify or relieve the situation.
  • Schedule a mandatory Conflict Management workshop. Many companies provide courses in person and on DVD which teach workers how to handle conflict with peers and superiors that can be viewed during working hours.
  • Research and implement regular team building exercises.  The purpose of team building exercises is to assist employees’ development of professional and positive working relationships.  Getting workers’ minds off of work for a period of time and to becoming more comfortable around each other can do wonders for the workplace environment.  Scheduling team building activities for your employees will not only increase motivation, but can assist in communication barriers as well.
  • Develop incentive schemes to include stress-relieving prizes.  What better way to prevent an anger- or stress-related blowout than a ending a long productive week with an afternoon at the spa?  Hold a meeting and ask your employees how they prefer to reduce stress levels and offer these solutions as prizes for high productivity on a monthly or semi-monthly basis.

For more information on how an employee struggling with anger management may be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, view the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 text from the U.S. Equal Employement Opportunity Commission website here: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adaaa.cfm

Webster, M. (n.d.). Retrieved on February 25, 2014 from

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anger

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