My Employee is Angry at Me

It can be very hard to get work done, let alone good work done, on a good day when all your employees and teams are happy. But when your team is not working together it’s even worse. What if someone or multiple employees on your team are angry with you? What is the process you should follow to solve this issues before it becomes a problem?

If your employee is angry at you there could be multiple reasons. Although, some of these reasons may be your fault but some may not be. Therefore, in either case you need to have an honest open conversation with the employee. After that, make sure you earnestly try to take action to solve the issues. Above all, even if you can’t fix a problem, you have shown with this honest open conversation that you care about your employee. In conclusion, this process will help you build back trust.

Have You Crossed The Line?

Right up front I need to ask; Have your crossed the line? Do you know that you did something wrong or even illegal? Do you have any feelings of guilt? Every situation is going to be different so I can not give you exact advice or even tell you where “the line” may be. 

Did you do something that can be forgiven?  If it’s not classed as a crime then maybe you can turn this situation around. Prepare an apology, give it to the employee in an honest manner, and document it. There is no guarantee this will work but it’s worth a try. If they do accept your apology then continue on with this blog post. If they do not accept your apology then you may need to get a lawyer but the apology may help your cause.

Is what you did considered a crime? If so, I would advise you to get a lawyer right now. Do not follow the remainder of the advice in this blog post. If you’ve done wrong, following any further advice in this blog post could make things worse. Your lawyer will give you further advice.

my employee is angry at me
My employee is angry at me

Have an Honest Open Conversation

Communication is that starting point for most human resource and employee related issues. Above all, you must find out exactly what your employee is thinking. Therefore, you need to have an honest open conversation. In addition, it is important to have this conversation sooner rather than later because small issues left alone can become big problems!

Invite your employee to the meeting and let them know that you are working to better your relationship with them. So, for their comfort and safety, allow them to bring a trusted friend or coworker to this meeting.

Make sure you are prepared to listen and support your employee no matter what you learn in this conversation. For instance, make sure you have pen and paper to take notes. More importantly, have support information ready like your Employee Assistance Program info or suicide awareness & prevent info. Moreover, you want to be prepared with hopes the issue is not that serious.

Start the conversation by telling them right out what you are seeing and what your are perceiving from this. Follow up, by saying you want to help and support them but need to understand what they are thinking and feeling. Now, give your employee time to speak and don’t interrupt them until they say they are done. Therefore, this is the time for you to listen and make quick notes.

When your employee has finished speaking ask them what they would like to see done or corrected. After that, try your best to address the solutions or work on acceptable compromises.

If the Problem is Not You

For you as the owner or manager the best case is that your employees perceived anger towards you is not your fault. Unfortunately, this may mean that you can’t really directly help your employee by making real changes at work. Although, if you get creative with them maybe you can create some sort of support mechanism for them and other employees in similar situations. In other words, this still may be a great opportunity to do good.

Ultimately, you need to be there for them showing support; maybe even publicly if they’re comfortable with that.

If the Problem is You

Unfortunately, as an HR Professional I see that the owner or manager are the problem in many situations. Sometimes, they’re the problem because a system, policy, or process has already been defined and the choice has been taken away from them. That means, that even if they wanted to do something different in their minds they couldn’t. Other times, the owner or manager is only thinking about the bottom line, statistics, and the ability to make profit. However, this second method always leads to employee issues.

If the problem is you then get feedback and show you’re working on it. However, you may need to issue a formal apology to reassure the employee that you are sincere. Above all, do no give this “lip service” as this process of correction will take months or even years to fix. First, you need to do your research into the issue so you can make some quality changes. Second, you need to continue asking for feedback from the employee monthly or at least quarterly. Finally, make sure these changes can be duplicated to ensure other employees down the road are not negatively affected.

Build Long Term Trust

The first step to building long term trust is having the honest open conversation. Secondly, getting feedback is important. Thirdly, trust is build by actions so make sure you do what you say you would do. Fourthly, following up on your conversation and actions will help you get a second round of valuable feedback. Finally, after weeks, months, or years you may start to regain or build that trust with the employee you have lost.

Having employees that trust you helps to create happy employees. And happy employees means you will have happy customers and clients!

Will this work if my employee is rude to me?

A rude employee may be a sign of disrespect for you as the owner or manager. Moreover, you may not know why you have lost this employees respect. So, yes, this process will allow you find out why the employee is rude to you. If you don’t know why the employee is rude you can’t correct the situation.

That being said, if your organization has a culture of being rude or allowing crude jokes then this may be a bigger issue that you will have to tackle. Therefore, if it’s a bigger issue then you may have to team or organization wide meetings not just one-on-one conversations to start addressing this.

Will this work if my employee hates me or doesn’t like me?

If you know the employee hates you then it is vital that you do this! Unfortunately, that honest open conversation might be high tension with a lot of yelling. Therefore, make sure you also invite a trusted friend or coworker to the meeting but follow the same process. In addition, expect a long period of time before this employee will trust or like you again.

Will this work if my employee doesn’t talk to me?

There may be two reasons this employee is not talking to you. First, they could hate you so see above. Secondly, they could be intimidated by you. So, if they are intimidated by you then you still have the honest open conversation process but you need to be extra nice to them. In other words, don’t try to make the meeting intimidating and find a way to show them you are not a what they think.

Moving Forward

Building and keeping trust is such an important thing in any organization. As an owner or manager I highly recommend reading two or three books on building trust this year. Click here now to see the great selection of trust building books on Amazon.

As a small business owner or manager you can be very busy. Therefore, there is no shame in seeking help with human resources. Although, before you do, you may want to better understand what the role of human resources is by reading our other blog post.

I hope this blog post help to answer your questions around how to deal with an employee that is angry at you!