Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Dealing with an Aggravated Employee

When you’re a boss, you get all kinds of employees working for you. As the saying goes, everyone is a snowflake. No two people are identical. That means that in any large group of people you’ll have a variety of types. Luckily, the majority of them are okay with handling day to day life. But every now and then you might come across someone who has had enough and is feeling like nothing would please him or her more than to make a scene. How do you deal with hostile people, especially in the workplace? Read on to find out.

The first step of any potentially hostile situation is to isolate the person. While you can learn this from almost any procedural cop show or movie, it isn’t common knowledge. See if you can coax the employee to come with you into a conference room or your office on the grounds that you would like to hear them out. Make sure you let them know, or at least make it seem like, you are interested in what they have to say.

Once in the conference room/office/broom closet, just talk to them. Sometimes people just have a bad day and need to vent. Let them say their piece or have their tantrum and then go from there. Let them take the rest of the day off and say you’ll discuss things tomorrow. It’s important that you don’t imply that you will be reprimanding them tomorrow or that you tell them to go ‘cool off.’ Say it as a suggestion, not as a demand. Also wait until they’ve calmed down before suggesting they take the day off, some people might get even more agitated if they’re enflamed when they hear this.

Now here’s the other scenario that could happen: the employee becomes hostile. I don’t mean ‘hostile’ in a violent way (although this could certainly apply to that, too) but in an uncooperative, won’t listen to the slightest shred of reason sort of way. If it comes to this it is no longer part of your job description to personally handle the employee. Let the employee know you are calling security (or police, if you don’t have security) if they don’t settle down. If this doesn’t work, then do it. Don’t think twice, just call in the fuzz. If they’re unresponsive to reason and rationale then don’t respond with reason and rationale. Everyone takes police seriously. If the employee sees that police were called they might realize how overboard they’ve gone and it’ll sober them up. If they don’t, at least you have people trained to deal with it there.

Hopefully it never comes to calling in police, but you have to be ready just in case. If they’re seriously disrupting the workplace then they need to be dealt with. Just make sure to gauge whether it’s your job to intervene or not; there’s no point in endangering yourself needlessly in a hostile situation.

Have you ever dealt with a hostile or aggravated employee in the workplace? How did you handle the situation? Tell us in the comments below.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by victoriapeckham

Bane Srdjevic

Bane is a Purdue graduate and has been through a lot of the trials and tribulations every job seeker goes through. He is looking to spread his knowledge so that other job seekers don't make the same mistakes. Learning by doing is fine, but knowledge is king.