Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why this kolaveri - A practical guide to anger management at workplace

Pardon my urge get SEO brownie points with the title.  I wanted to blog about fear for sometime, had conversations with colleagues on anger, rage, fear etc and finally the blog materialized in my mind and the title came from Dhanush.

I have heard the phrase, "mortally scared" in a few inappropriate contexts.  Once someone used the term to express  her reservation to travel by MTC bus, another person used it to describe the relationship with a business partner.  I'd brush them aside as the effect of Americanized exaggeration.  But coming back to fear, you'd be mortally scared when you are physically in danger.  This is one category of fear to protect you from getting yourself killed.

And there is a psychological fear, the fear of losing your job, position, status in the society etc.

At workplace, either of the two may be used to enhance productivity or simply to get the job done.  In jobs involving pure physical labor, the laborers were often beaten to get the work done.  In more sophisticated jobs,  invoking the psychological fear is considered to yield results.  Abusive language, threat of dismissal come under this category.

In workplaces, the abused and threatened are stressed.  Common psychology defines the response to such situations as fight-or-flight response.  Due to the market conditions, such threats are no more effective in improving the quality of work, instead the stressed worker chooses flight as there is no scope in winning fights.  If someone choose to fight in such scenario, it is usually a guerrilla war using all kinds of media - ranging from rest room graffiti to anonymous posts to mouthshut.

Top executives of today do have a reason for their rage, but targeting the fear of the subordinates hardly achieves the goals of improved productivity and quality of work.  Often the rage is not followed up with a corrective action.  Here is a simple way to handle it.

  • When poor quality of work or lack of progress troubles you, stay with the mood.
  • It would be a very uncomfortable feeling, both physically and psychologically. 
  • Do not reason it out or react.  Do not attempt to wriggle out of the situation by reasoning.
  • The uncomfortable feeling would fade away in a few minutes.
  • You will have an altogether different perspective to the problem.
  • That difference in perspective can throw up a number of options to address the situation - it may range from educating the subordinate to firing him.  But it is sure that the action you take will be a good one for you and the subordinate.  Such an action will be a rational one devoid of any emotional influence.
Try this and let me know if it works.