Work is no Place for Negative Emotions

Posted on May 31, 2012.

Harvard Business Review recently wrote an article on working with someone you hate. The tips are great and it’s nice to know how to deal with hatred. But is the workplace any place for hate, anger, bigotry or any other extreme negative emotion?

Sure we’re all human. But there is a time and a place. As managers, you need make sure that this kind of negative energy doesn’t permeate your environment by:

  1. Leading by example.  No matter how much you dislike someone or how angry you might get, you keep it to yourself. There is nothing more destructive to morale and productivity than a boss whose emotions are unpredictable and vocal.  People start spending more time trying to predict your mood than working. And showing public disdain for anyone in the company is just plain unprofessional. As a manager and leader, suck it up and pretend you like, or at a minimum respect, everyone.  You can always go home and vent to the dog or the other people that are suppose to love you unconditionally.
  2. Not tolerating the behavior in others.  We’ve all heard the expression, “ she’s great but she sure breaks a lot of glass along the way”.  I’ve had people like that work for me.  They’re like spouse abusers. They scream and yell at people in the office (in front of others) then come in and say they’re sorry and it won’t happen again. But it always does.   As a manager, leaving this type of negative behavior unchecked is the same as enabling it. Assuming you’re not bound by any contract, you need to fire him or her.  I don’t care how great they perform. Their inability to control their anger and emotions is impacting the productivity and turnover of the team, which is very costly.

For managers, the best tips in the article centers around “keeping it to yourself” and “managing your own reaction”. But I would take it one step further and say you have the responsibility to ensure that everyone on your team does the same.