Nobody wants angry employees, but sometimes a mismanaged change, an unwelcome decision, or an unfair situation causes a worker to be anywhere from merely disgruntled to outright furious. The question for managers is how best to handle an angry employee and re-engage them in their job. You need to learn how to better engage angry employees.
Tips on How to Deal with Upset Employees
There are any number of causes for an employee to get upset. Here are some tips on how you can respond so that work can continue productively.
- Avoid the Situation in the First Place
Before you announce bad news or what you know will be an unpopular decision for some, do a current state analysis, actively involve those most affected, and plan your strategy. Let the team know that you really struggled with the decision so they understand it was not made arbitrarily but with empathy for how it will affect others. If you show your human side, the team is less likely to react with anger than with understanding.
- Acknowledge Their Feelings
Really listen to their concerns and what frustrates them. Let them vent but don’t respond with defensiveness or your own anger. You do not want the situation to escalate or get out of control.
As manager, it is up to you to try to see things from their perspective, remain calm, and look for common ground and understanding.
Recognize that the difficult decisions you make may cause undue hardship for some, and you will be blamed. Do what you can to resolve any conflict and then give yourself some time and distance to save your own sanity. Above all else, do not take it too personally.
- Prepare Ahead for Conflict
In order not to get blind-sided, try to role play how you might deal with an angry employee knocking on your office door. Perhaps you can work with a trusted colleague to set up a scenario where you play both the manager and then the angry employee. This will give you some insight into and empathy for how an employee might feel as well as some ways to handle potential difficult conversations.
The Bottom Line
Even if you take the perfect employee engagement actions, there are times when employees get angry, and their anger may be justified. Your role as manager is to listen and empathize. Negative emotions won’t disappear overnight but, if you handle the situation well, progress can be made toward a mutual understanding so that the employee can once again engage and be productive.
To learn more about how better engage angry employees, download Tips to Increase Employee Engagement through Communication