Leaders Need to Prepare for Anger In the Workplace

chalkboard drawing of employee showing anger

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

I have fallen in love with the Apple TV show “Ted Lasso”. I know nothing about association football (aka soccer), but the overall vibe of the show is just wonderful. Even when things aren’t going as planned for the characters. In fact, there’s one scene from Season 1 that’s become a little joke between me and Mr. Bartender. When team captain Roy Kent is struggling during a training session (and swearing the whole time), Ted Lasso is watching from the sidelines and quietly saying “Swear it out, Roy. Swear it out.” So, when we get frustrated or exasperated at a situation, we just laugh “Swear it out!”

The reason that I’m bringing up this scene from Ted Lasso is because I’m reading lots of articles about employees being frustrated and angry. I’m sure you are too. Employees are angry about being asked to come into the office. And employees are frustrated at all the changing office guidelines. A survey from Verizon indicated that nearly a third of respondents didn’t tell their employer when they tested positive for COVID-19. The reason? They didn’t think it was a big deal and didn’t want to have to take paid time off.

In addition, employees are angry about vaccines. Regardless of your particular views about the vaccine, it seems like either employees are angry at their co-workers who haven’t received the vaccine or employees are angry at people asking them to get the vaccine. Jon Hyman wrote an interesting blog post about vaccination-status harassment. Yes, it’s an issue. Check out his article.

So, I totally understand the frustration. I really do. Unfortunately, getting rid of the frustration isn’t as simple as yelling “Swear it out!” Which is why there’s something organizations need to start thinking and talking about. That’s how their company culture deals with the anger.

Over the past few months, many CEOs have said that they want employees to return to the office. They feel that part of their culture is having everyone together. Honestly, I understand the importance of good teamwork and collaboration, however, I’m not sure how true it is that the company culture is dependent on everyone being in the same building. But let’s for a moment say it’s true. Then that means this growing anger has the potential to is becoming part of the company culture. Leaders need to be ready for that. And I’m not sure they are. 

I will admit that I don’t have all the answers, but here are four things to keep in mind.

  1. Acknowledge the challenge. Simply ignoring employee anger and frustration could only make the situation worse. And banning certain topics of conversation is only shifting the frustration (think software company Basecamp). 
  2. Check existing benefits and programs. Look to see if the company’s wellbeing or employee assistance programs have resources to help employees.
  3. Offer resources. Give employees at every level the tools to help them manage their emotions. And give managers the tools to support their teams.
  4. Recognize positive efforts and outcomes. Moving through an intense situation with a co-worker or team is tough. As employees make the effort, recognize it. Let them know that they have support.

The anger and frustration that employees are feeling didn’t happen overnight and it’s not going to go away overnight. Organizations need to acknowledge this. Managers should be prepared to handle emotional situations. And employees need to think about their personal wellbeing and seek help when necessary. We can’t ignore this because if we do, it could have a lasting negative impact on company culture.

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Miami, FL

The post Leaders Need to Prepare for Anger In the Workplace appeared first on hr bartender.

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