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    Coach-Soch: Taming temper tantrums in the workplace

    Coach-Soch: Taming temper tantrums in the workplace

    Coach-Soch: Taming temper tantrums in the workplace
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    By Srinath Sridharan   IST (Published)


    A short business narrative (of a 3 min read) that sets the context, challenge(s) faced, the type of leadership involved and the questions to ponder about, to solve for the issues. This is not to give answers; for business & life in general is not like a school-guide-book. This column is to provoke the reader to think more. And to sensitise that each individual or organisation are unique, and the answers would depend on the situation, difference in organisational culture, context, etc.

    To question, is to think. To think, is to introspect. To introspect, is to seek. To seek, is to be aware. To be aware, is when the journey begins.
    Angry birds don’t get the grains.
    Are any of your colleagues angry or upset most of the time? Are there temper tantrums that you threw or witnessed someone in your team throw?
    All of us have encountered volatile leaders, or ones who are controlled by their temper. How did their behaviour impact your performance, or the performance of your organisation? And because all of us have different mechanisms for coping with anger, were you able to complete your tasks? Or were you disturbed by the anger all around your workplace?

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    It is quite common to see some leaders losing their cool. I am sure you have been on the receiving end of a leader's angry tirade during a meeting, or seen the boss berating a colleague in front of others. We all go experience such public displays of anger. However, taking out our frustration out on our team members often turns the work culture toxic.
    Handling Temper Tantrums
    Adult temper tantrums are surprisingly tolerated, despite them having a negative impact on all those around them. Routinely, such outbursts are brushed aside as “blowing off steam”, or “stress-busters”. Reactions to temper tantrums actually drive short-term and reactive thinking. One cannot avoid being angry, yet one must build adequate coping mechanisms to maintain decorum.
    If all of us get angry in reaction to someone else's anger and started loudly venting, the world would be a deafening place to be living in.
    The question is, do you know your coping mechanism? Be it counselling, therapy, having a mentor or coach. Exercise. Music. Books. Walks. There are options aplenty. Find what works for you.
    How Do Effective Leaders Cope?
    Effective leaders are self-aware. They are aware of their weaknesses as much as they know their strengths. They work on improving both.
    Conventional thinking is that when stress is high and pressure is mounting, it’s easy to lose your calm. The reality is that not everyone loses their cool in situations that are beyond their control. What’s the point in getting angry if you cannot control the outcome?
    A good organisational culture allows for adequate care for human issues like anger, stress, etc. At the same time, it will not tolerate habitual abuse of these, as they impact everyone in the organisation.
    The Unpleasant Aftermath
    Is it okay for you to apologise after a temper tantrum? Or is it a sign of weakness?
    How do you tell your reporting manager that (s)he is creating a bad environment with temper issues? How do you flag a habitual offender?
    How do you solve a toxic culture? When do you escalate the issue to HR? Is your HR so aligned to the leaders that they might ignore your complaints?
    Do you then flag the issue to the board? Is there a whistle blower policy in your organisation?
    How do you stay calm despite pressures for you to withdraw your complaint? Should you quit the organisation if they don’t entertain any complaints about the founders/CXOs?
    As a board member, are you aware of personality issues that are wreaking havoc on the organisation? Would you confront any CEO/CXO who is destroying the culture with temper issues?
    Look Around You
    Or don’t you even know the team members beyond those you meet in the boardroom come presentation time? If yes, then, shouldn’t you?
    Well, there have been enough teams that have been destroyed by temper issues. It is never too late nor too soon to jump in, to solve an anger issue at work.
    –The author, Srinath Sridharan is a corporate adviser and independent markets commentator. For other articles in the Coach-Soch series, click here.
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