Disruptive Anger in the Workplace

The workplace is a melting point of people from different backgrounds, cultures and communities. Conflicts and differences of opinion are bound to occur. Add to that deadlines, work pressures and responsibilities and you get an entire workplace drama.

Newspapers frequently enumerate stories of employees going over the edge and shooting their colleagues or destroying company property. Ex-employees turn out to be spiteful and reveal confidential information to competitors. Some retaliate by wiping out years of company data and wrecking back-up files.

Manpower is a resource that has to be handled with care. Rough handling can be highly detrimental to the morale and productivity of the organization as a whole.

Workplace anger is experienced at all levels beginning from line staff and ending with executives and managers. However, it has been observed that lower levels of the hierarchy react more violently as compared to higher level executives. Perhaps, this is due to lack of proper training and orientation. Top executives on the other hand get more exposure to soft skills and communication programs. Prompting strikes and damaging property is more frequent among factory workers and daily wage earners. Executives retaliate differently. They may resort to back-biting, manipulation, intimidation and spite to release their resentment. It’s difficult to say which is the lesser of the two evils: getting violent or acting malicious.

Both are detrimental to the overall work environment. While violence is dangerous to lives and property, silent sufferance creates a negative atmosphere and dampens morale.

Reasons for Workplace Anger: Listed below are of the common reasons for anger at the workplace:

 Leaves not granted
 Regular overtime at the workplace
 No appreciation for good performance
 Promotions awarded to “yes men” as opposed to good performers
 Salary hikes not approved
 Overly critical supervisors or managers
 Partiality towards certain employees
 Termination of employment
Steps to curb Workplace Anger: Managers should be cognizant of the first signs of aggression. Absenteeism, late-coming, tardiness and deterioration in performance are some warning signals.
• Organizations should invest in Anger Management Programs at regular intervals to enable employees to express feelings and release pent-up emotions.
• One-to-one sessions with employees should take place regularly even when no problems are apparent. This helps prevent any lurking anger issues that may blow up later.
• Active listening and conversations in informal settings should be encouraged to make people feel at ease and open up.
• Proper systems for complaints and grievances must be established. Every complaint must be dealt with within a specified time frame.
• If an employee has to be terminated, it has to be done as civilly as possible. They should not be made to feel small and humiliated.

Stress Management to control Workplace Anger: Most of our stress is associated with work. Work pressure is on the rise. We are expected to be faster, brighter and more efficient than we already are. A disappointment with our job leads to depression and anger. Hence, controlling stress helps in controlling workplace anger. Being on cordial terms with our colleagues and superiors helps minimize stress at work. It’s not possible to be on good terms with everybody at the workplace. However, even a couple of supportive co-workers can prevent work from becoming a living hell.

Anger Management Institute of Texas is a certified Anderson & Anderson ® provider.

Anger Management Classes and Anger Management – Executive Coaching available in Houston, Texas.

Gregory A. Kyles, M.A., LPC, CEAP, CAMF
Director, Anger Management Institute of Texas
Diplomate, President of Texas Chapter
American Association of Anger Management Providers