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Are your team members too angry?

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in Leaders & Managers,Preventing Workplace Violence

Are your team members feeling hot under the collar? Experts tell us there are more than 1.5 million incidents of anger-related workplace violence in the U.S. each year — and the number's growing.

That's one reason why some enterprises are offering, or even requiring, anger-management classes for their managers and front-line employees. If anger seems like a problem on your team, here's some insight that can help:

- Be alert to causes. Some people are just better able to cope with stress and conflict than are others. But when you encounter inappropriate outbursts of anger on your team, make sure there's not a more specific cause. Is one employee bullying another? Do workers who can't control their anger feel they're not being listened to or valued? Are off-the-job issues involved?

It's important not to chalk up anger to normal workplace stress before you're sure whether this is true. Identifying specific problems can help you avoid catastrophic incidents of workplace conflict, violence, and harassment.

- Zero tolerance for bad behavior. In itself, there's nothing wrong with workers being angry; it's the violent or disruptive behavior that can't be allowed. The firmer you are about enforcing expectations for civil behavior, the better. Even one nasty outburst by a team member can have a long-term corrosive effect on morale, as well as on future productive work relationships between the specific employees involved.

The challenge is to make sure that angry team members know their feelings and issues do matter, and that if and when they can express those feelings constructively, you and other team members are more than willing to address the issues.

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