Let’s face it. Working isn’t always a day at the beach. People get frustrated and angry — and frustrated employees aren’t productive. So HR expert Mel Kleiman has come up a few ways for your managers to bring angry employees back into the fold.
According to Kleiman, who runs the consulting firm Humetrics, angry or frustrated employees have three choices: They can speak up, let things simmer inside, or they can leave.
Usually, managers’ first reaction is to try and find out whether the employee’s anger is justified.
Totally irrelevant to the situation, Kleiman says. All that matters is that the employee is angry — it’s their experience and their perception of a specific situation.
How to deal with an angry employee? Here’s a six-step plan from a recent LinkedIn post by Kleiman:
Thank them for their feedback. Let them know the time, energy (and probably courage), it took to let you know about the situation is of great value.
Empathize with their frustration. They want to be understood and they want to feel justified in their beliefs. This doesn’t require a long, drawn out discussion. Saying something like: “I can imagine how frustrating this must have been for you,” will do. (Be sure to be genuine about this or you will sound patronizing.)
Ask for the details. Ask them to outline what led up to their displeasure. Assure them that you will into the details of what happened and, the more information they can provide, the more quickly you will be able to offer a remedy.
Apologize. Not just a quick “I’m sorry,” but an honest apology for the frustration they have experienced. Remember, they are taking time to help you improve your business. Let them know, in a genuine way, you’re sorry for the inconvenience, displeasure, or discomfort they experienced.
Take Action. This is truly what the employee wants to know: What are YOU going to do about it? Just as you would with a customer complaint, this is the time to surprise and delight the employee. Your next action will be what the employee remembers. You are working to win back an employee’s trust.
Follow Up! Be sure to say, “I’ll follow up with you in (timeframe) to make sure we get this right and it doesn’t happen again.” After you come up with a solution, it’s time to check back to be sure they are now satisfied (and, consequently, delighted to be working for you). Follow these simple steps and you can take control of the situation, turn an angry employee into an engaged employee, and improve the way things are done to boot. See how valuable an irate employee can be?