3 Mistakes Angry Managers Make

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follow Wanna hear one of my embarrassing management moments?  I was a young management pup, and had lost my temper. I’d just had a difficult conversation with a very demanding receptionist at a radio station where I worked. She was probably 60 years old; I was 22.

Our discussion had not gone well: she’d left the room, slamming the door behind her. I’m ashamed to say now that my immediate response was to flip her off (that is to say I gave the “middle finger salute” toward the closed door). I stood in that position, stalwart and fierce-faced like an ancient Aztec warrior.

And then she came back in.


What have I learned since then? Plenty. Here are some solutions I’ve discovered that may help you the next time your lid comes off.

follow link 1. Don’t slam the (figurative) door. When someone ticks us off, a common reaction is to go into a tirade. We often close the door to communication and focus on his/her actions. We ruminate on the passion of the problem all day, or all week.

One solution is to step away for a moment. Tell the employee that it will be wise for both of you to wait until calmer minds can prevail. Don’t postpone the meeting until the next day. Give each other time to collect thoughts, then search for the real problem…together.

2. Don’t be seduced by the “presenting problem.”  An employee was always 10 minutes late to work. It happened every day, even over her manager’s repeated demands to be at work on time.

The presenting problem was continual tardiness. Upon asking questions, Linda , the manager, discovered it had nothing at all to do with insubordination. It had everything to do with income.

The employee was ashamed to talk about her money problems, and had taken a part-time job early in the morning. This made her regularly late for work.

Rather than being seduced by the presenting issue, Linda wisely asked the “next question,” and the next, and so on, until she discovered the real problem: money. Linda’s solution was to allow the employee to arrive 1/2 hour later in the morning, and she reduced the employee’s one-hour lunch break to 30 minutes. Everyone was happy.

3. Listen, as well as hear. Here’s a good term to remember: “active listening.” We always hear people with whom we are speaking, but listening is a very different activity. It takes effort.

How does one really listen? First, pay attention; keep eye contact. Second, be aware of  words and emotions. Observing body language is a part of this process. Third, play it back. Restate what the other person just said, and always ask, “do I have that right?”.

Finally, engage the other person in a process of solving the problem together.

Flipping out or flipping off: neither is a good solution. The next time you have a meltdown, count to 10 and follow the points above.

How do you manage these challenges?

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