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CHAPTER 8 Dealing With Anger in Your Organization or Team

Donald Gibson HRD Press PDF

CHAPTER 8

Dealing With Anger in

Your Organization or Team

IF YOU ARE IN A POSITION of organizational or team leadership, you should continually assess the workplace to identify its strengths and weaknesses. This should include the tracking of anger. We’ve discussed the high costs that an organization or a team can incur if anger is poorly managed. And we know that anger is unavoidable because the workplace involves complex relationships, high stakes, significant pressure, and many forces beyond our immediate control. While it can be difficult to manage anger in ourselves and others, dealing with anger in organizations and teams can pose our greatest challenge, especially if the anger is pervasive and derived from systemic causes.

To get an idea of the state of anger in your organization or team, complete the assessment on the next page. It will bring you a step closer to understanding what role anger is playing in your organization or team. If you find that anger is a significant problem, you must take

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CHAPTER 2 The Costs of Anger in the Workplace

Donald Gibson HRD Press PDF

Managing Anger in the Workplace

revenge may be obvious. But not so the more subtle costs of anger: personal damage ranging from diminished career prospects to diminished health; workgroup damage ranging from lost work time to lost innovation; and organizational damage ranging from increased absenteeism to increased turnover. While it is difficult to calculate the monetary value of direct and indirect costs to individuals and organizations, we can enumerate some of the leading costly impacts of poorly managed anger.

Impact on the Angry Person

It was once thought that venting anger was healthier than holding it in. Today most findings indicate that angry people suffer negative effects whether they vent their feelings or not. Anger in the individual causes strong emotional and physical responses resulting in impaired cognitive and physical functioning. Poorly managed anger, then, can damage your career, and if the anger is chronic, it can result in long-term health problems.

Here are the specifics:

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CHAPTER 3 The Benefits of Anger in the Workplace

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Managing Anger in the Workplace

➥ EXERCISE: Case Example

Directions: Read the case example below and then consider the questions that follow it.

Tim went into a performance-appraisal meeting expecting news of a healthy pay raise from his boss. He had been integral to a software-product team that had persevered through difficult circumstances to deliver a high-quality, highly marketable product. That the delivery had been several days over the promised deadline seemed negligible to Tim; the software already looked like it would be a major success.

However, at the meeting, his boss informed him that the company was being strict about deadlines. The team’s late delivery thus meant he would not receive much of a raise. The boss was apologetic but stuck to the company guidelines, arguing that there were several points at which the team could have taken action to get the product out on time.

TIM WAS FURIOUS. He had worked many long days and nights to ensure the product would be a success. Now that devotion and hard work was to be overlooked in deference to a bureaucratic deadline? It was intolerable!

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CHAPTER 1 Anger in the Workplace

Donald Gibson HRD Press PDF

Managing Anger in the Workplace

The next thing Mary knew, she was handing a state trooper her license and registration. “I’m sorry, officer,” she said, “I’m just in a big hurry. I’m running late.” He was unimpressed. “Everyone here would like to drive in the breakdown lane. But I suppose you’re special, right?” Mary said nothing. After an agonizing five-minute wait, the officer handed back her license and registration, along with a fifty-dollar ticket.

Now Mary was really late. So late, in fact, that the lot where she usually parked was full. By the time she found a parking spot, hiked the extra distance to her building, and made it to her office, she was in no mood for the nasty-toned voice mail her boss had left for her.

“Mary, where are you?” he wanted to know. “It’s ninethirty. I’d better hear from you by ten o’clock!” She took a deep breath and headed for the ladies’ room to collect herself before dealing with the rest of her day.

On her way out the office door, John, her assistant, came walking swiftly in her direction. “Mary,” he said,

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CHAPTER 5 Focus on the Source

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5. Focus on the Source

While people may differ in the specifics of what makes them angry, the causes usually have one common denominator: interpersonal dynamics—relationships between and among people. Every person has a basic need to value him- or herself and to feel valued by others. Yet when people’s self-esteem is threatened, they’re reluctant to admit it, even to themselves.

Some leading psychologists argue that anger is driven by primary emotions that attack self-esteem; these include feelings of betrayal, disapproval, deprivation, exploitation, frustration, humiliation, manipulation, restriction, and threat. Such emotions can be traced to any of a wide range of causes, from broad contextual circumstances to highly personal impulses. We may categorize the causes into five troublesome areas:

1. Anger at the system

2. Perceived inequity

3. Blocked goals

4. Divergent values

5. Unequal power relations

1. Anger at the System

Today many factors beyond our control create a broad context more likely to produce anger. In our highly interdependent and interconnected global economy, events halfway around the world can come knocking on our door and make us feel threatened and insecure.

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