What can managers do to tackle irritability in the workplace?

Angry diverse multiethnic applicants argue with confident female before recruitment talk, mad multiracial male candidates discriminate woman intern before interview, gender discrimination conceptIrritability at work is not a new phenomenon, but after a year of uncertainty, isolation and home working, it is unsurprising that workers in the UK are feeling frustrated.

However, this sense of irritability can leave workers feeling disengaged and unproductive – not only those that are feeling the frustration but for the team members who are subject to or witness irritable behaviour. As leaders and influencers within the workplace, it is the responsibility of managers to address the root causes, even when workers aren’t immediately open about their feelings. Tony Gregg, Chief Executive at Anthony Gregg Partnership, a high-end executive search firm, shares his recommendations on what managers can do to help lift the mood in the workplace and prevent irritability from taking hold.

Talk to your employees

To understand what might be the source or cause of irritability for your team, you have to talk to the people on your team. ‘Checking in’ rather than ‘checking on’ employees regularly will help them feel more connected with work and will help them to offload any concerns as they arise. Try not to limit communication to email, as direct communications with employees by phone or video call enables managers to identify their employees’ tone and expressions. Being able to notice the behaviours and signs of struggle means being able to resolve issues sooner.

Be approachable

The conversation about emotions at work needs to be two-sided. For employees to feel comfortable opening up to you, they need to know that you are approachable. Opening up a conversation with your team letting them know that they can reach out to you if and when they feel irritated is the first step.

Set good working practices

Building a working environment that fosters a good work-life balance is another key to reducing irritability in the workplace. Long working hours and lack of social interaction lead to a poor-work life balance and fatigue that can trigger irritability at work.

Be empathetic

As a leader, you should be able to offer the emotional support and guidance that your team may need. It’s important to remember that irritability can be a sign of something deeper going on for that individual, and can even be a symptom of burnout. Being supportive of an employee, even when negative behaviour is surfacing, is an important attribute for managers to demonstrate when dealing with irritability in the workplace.

Promote access to support

Of course, there may be times when an employee’s needs are beyond the scope of your role as a manager. It’s important for workers to have access to the appropriate support to deal with any underlying concerns if you are not personally able to provide a solution as their manager.

The role of the manager is not only to acknowledge the issue of irritability but to react and find a solution, being perceptive of any underlying causes of the behaviour. Successful management of irritability at work will depend on a manager’s ability to ask the necessary questions and provide the support to solve them. Addressing the source of the problem sooner rather than later will always be in the best interest of both the individual and the team as a whole.

About the author

Tony Gregg Anthony Gregg Partnership is a high end recruitment search business placing senior and board level roles across the UK and Europe. Tony Gregg is recognised within the retail industry as a leading executive search partner. Tony launched agp in 2003 and has since recruited hundreds of board and director-level candidates for prestigious clients spanning a wide range of consumer industries.

A high profile media commentator with extensive industry knowledge, Tony is renowned for his exceptional work rate, attention to detail and determination to get the right result for his clients and candidates.


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