When managers lose it big time. 

Flame mails. Angry phone calls. Raised voices. 

May be you were just the unlucky person who picked up the phone but the manager on the other end is angry, very angry with HR. Perhaps something has gone wrong in the recruitment process, maybe there has been a cock up over the redundancy notices, or a disgruntled employee has been advised to submit a formal grievance against this manager. Could it be that the disciplinary hearing did not result in the out come the manager wanted! 


It could of course be that you’re ringing them in response to their abusive email which  was clearly fired off in a burst of anger and frustration. Perhaps now they have had time to think about it they may regret the language used so don’t start the conversation by telling them they how inappropriate you think their email was. Alternatively you may be contacting them about the sarcastic and rude voice mail they left. It would be better if this could be a face to face meeting but if that not possible.


First think about how to start the conversation remembering not to take the anger language  personally, acknowledge that they are upset and encourage them to talk about it. Secondly they should not address you or your staff in this manor but let’s deal with that when things have calmed down. The best way to take the heat out of the situation is let them have their say. If a mistake has been made then the quicker that’s acknowledged and apologised for the better. The next step is to agree what needs to be done to rectify the situation. 


If the problem is they the don’t like a decision, then acknowledge that fact. Even though they don’t agree with the decision , say the out come of a disciplinary or the decision not to offer a place on a management course, can you provide further information about the reasoning behind the decision. Of course it may be that their disagreement is with the policy such as a freeze on filling vacancies  or a ban on the use of agency staff as a cost saving measure. In which case you can offer advice on making the case for an exemption. 


It’s often the case that HR is just the messenger and we know people have a tendency to shoot the messenger if they don’t like the message, so it makes sense to hone our skills in deflecting anger and retaining an out ward appearance of calm reasonableness, even if that’s not how we feel inside. 

Blair Mcpherson former Director author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk 


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anya francis MBE 2 Months Ago

love this - its good to remember the human side