Outbursts, hostility and upfront confrontations are not all that rare in the workplace and often, they are a result of the buildup of everyday toxicity and micro-aggression. How can managers and HR foster an environment that manages workplace anger well? How should we respond to belligerence in a way that does not contribute to someone’s anger and create space for them to cool down, without affecting our own emotions?

Patricia Lotich at TheThrivingSmallBusiness.com has provided some tips on how to deal with anger in the workplace appropriately:

1. Create a Professional Culture 

Unless you want a workplace where you have a mud pit in the back where employees can wrestle out their issues, it is your responsibility to create a culture that encourages employees to communicate and interact with each other in a professional manner.

This involves helping employees understand the cultural norms of  “how we do things around here”.

Specifically, spending the time and energy to train employees on the dos and don’ts of interacting and communicating in the work place.

This should include training on professional communication, conflict resolution and negotiation skills.

2. Set Expectations and Train Employees

We all come from different backgrounds and view the world through the lens of our own experiences.

Some people have never learned how to communicate appropriately so it is our responsibility to set the expectations, demonstrate the desired behaviors and train employees on how to communicate with others when emotions are high. This involves learning some basics on emotional intelligence.

Once you train employees, make sure you have a signed document acknowledging the training to place in the employee file.

3. Response Training

Often employees don’t know how to respond to an angry employee. They are caught off guard and struggle with what to say or do. Teach them how to communicate, respond and what to do if they feel threatened.

Help them understand when to speak up and who to go to for help.

This includes understanding the process to report an incident – so that the situation will get resolved.

4. Confront Inappropriate and Threatening Behavior

We have all seen the news reports of violence in the workplace which is often the culmination of several events.

Managers often make the mistake of ignoring conflict situations because we think it is a onetime event.

However, nipping this kind of behavior in the bud is critical and must be done quickly to demonstrate the organization’s commitment to zero tolerance.

Oftentimes when you confront an employee about inappropriate behaviors, it can become a coaching moment and an opportune time to explain what is and what is not acceptable behavior at work.

Give the employee the benefit of the doubt and assume they lack the life experience to understand the consequences of their behavior.

If an employee does not respond to coaching it may be necessary to initiate progressive discipline – which may lead to their termination.

5. Document the Incident

When an employee acts inappropriately and is confronted about their behavior, it is important to document the incident.

Include documenting the date, time of the incident, persons involved, persons present and a brief description of the scenario that led up to the incident. Add a summary of the incident and details of how it was resolved.

This history could be vital if there becomes a need to take additional action or terminate the employee.

6. Have A Zero Tolerance Policy

There should be no excuse and no exception for any employee doing physical harm to another.

A zero tolerance policy that is communicated through the employee orientationprocess and training, allows you to quickly terminate the relationship and remove the employee from the organization.

Consult an attorney or utilize an HR professional to help you navigate through this process.

This post was originally published on TheThrivingSmallBusiness in April 2018. TheYoungProfessionalGroup.com takes no credit for the work of the author.

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