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Calming Down an Angry Employee – Part I

A Mini Case Study

Getting Control of Heated Team MeetingsWe all get upset at some point. Work may be piling up, we may feel as if we being unfairly saddled with tasks to do, we may be clashing with co-workers or we may just have stuff going on at home that is impacting work. Any of these situations can just be the last straw that sets off an employee and creates conflict in the workplace.

Consider this story:

Samantha’s team has been overloaded with work recently. It has been busy in her customer service group due to a number of new product releases. Additionally, her group is down three resources – one person on maternity leave and two others who have resigned from their roles. Five people are left trying to manage support calls from over 1,000 customers.

Last week, during a team meeting, Samantha realized that tensions are running a bit high. Normally team meetings went well and the group seemed happy to be getting together. Last week’s meeting was certainly different than any other. Agatha started to give her update when Jack interrupted her and told her to hurry up, he didn’t have all day for her to spit out the words. This was particularly upsetting to Agatha as she had a stutter which got worse when she was under stress. Needless to say she started stuttering in trying to hurry up and provide her update. Jack just sighed audibly and then got up and left the room muttering as he left, “Good lord what a waste of my time!” Agatha broke down in tears.

Samantha called Jack to her office to confront him about the meeting and his behavior. She wanted to understand what was going on. Jack told her he was “sick and tired of all the crap” and if things don’t change he was “out of here.” He then stomped out of her office.

Samantha decided to let Jack calm down.

Skip ahead to a week later. There is another team meeting. This time, during this report, Jack commented that it was difficult to do the job when the <expletive> computers keep going down and when his <expletive> co-workers don’t pull their weight. Samantha was confused. The computer had gone down, it’s true – but only once during the week and they were back up within 10 minutes. And everyone in the department – without exception – was working hard to address customer concerns and inquiries.

She really needed to address the situation with Jack once and for all.

What should Samantha do next? How would you handle the situation?

Part 2 of this post will provide some ideas on how Samantha might handle the situation.

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