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Calming Down an Angry Employee – Part II

A Mini Case Study

Getting Over Your Fear of Performance Management ConversationsRead Part I for background information.

What should Samantha do next?

Samantha needs to address the situation with Jack before it gets even more out of control. There is obviously something going on and it is undoubtedly impacting the team. It doesn’t seem to be impacting customers, but is likely to do so if Jack continues on his tirade.

Samantha asked Jack to come to her office and told him she wanted to speak to him about his recent behavior. She prepared him ahead of time by stating that the behavior was unacceptable and was having an impact on the team. She told him she wanted to understand what was going on and determine a path to correct that situation.

Samantha decided that she would take the following actions when Jack came to her office:

  1. Stay calm. She realized she needed to stay calm to keep Jack calm. If she overreacted, he would just get angrier. She needed to control the situation by staying calm during their conversation. This would help defuse the situation.
  2. Let him talk first. Samantha knew he needed to get something off his chest and by letting him spend some time talking before she started it may help her to have a better conversation with him. She decided that when he entered the office she would let him talk the lead in talking about what was going on and simply prompt him that she wanted to know what was upsetting him. She would show interest and concern for him through asking clarifying questions to ensure understanding.
  3. Recap the conversation and collaborate. When Jack is done talking, Samantha will recap what he said to be sure she understood his concerns. She will then ask Jack to collaborate with her on how to resolve the issues he believes exist. This will include discussing what he perceives as a problem in accomplishing the work (e.g., computers down) and discussing his perception that others in the department are not working as diligently as he is. During the collaboration she’ll ask Jack for his thoughts – What should be done? How can it be resolved? Samantha needs Jack to be part of the solution. If she simply tells him his behavior is not appropriate, it doesn’t solve the issue and just makes Jack defensive.

There are likely other things going on in Jack’s life – internal or external to the workplace – that is causing this reaction. Samantha’s goal is to understand what is going on so she can help Jack work through the issues and get him back on track.

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