Forced to hire employees? Well, an aggression expert offers his workplace aggression - tailor the bad news in a way that minimizes the likelihood of an extremely bad reaction.
Paul Harvey, assistant professor of management at the University of New Hampshire, also suggested to be watchful for employees who exhibit a 'hostile attribution style.'
Advertisement"Part of it is common sense and being respectful. One of my colleagues used to work for a company that decided it needed to downsize. The company took the bizarre step of announcing who would be laid off in stages, with each announcement coming on a Friday the 13th," Harvey said.
"This creates fear and tension among employees, and also creates an 'us vs. them' mentality. There weren't any disasters on that occasion, but it's not hard to imagine tensions boiling over," he added.
Harvey said that managers should try to understand an employee's personality and watch for a "hostile attribution style"-people who have a tendency to blame others whenever things go wrong in their lives.
These people usually are easy to identify: they never take responsibility for problems, frequently seek scapegoats, and tend to be angry frequently.
"If you need to lay this type of person off, it's important to be very explicit about why they were chosen and why this was a logical decision. If it's because of economic reasons, be very clear that it's because of economic reasons. Otherwise the tendency to believe 'they're out to get me' often takes over," Harvey said.
Even if an employer believes an employee is a calm and reasonable person, Harvey warned that it's best to be as candid as possible and explain all the reasons a person is being laid off, even if it's a bit awkward.
"One of the worst things you can do is create ambiguity. While the managers might think they are sparing feelings, they are also giving ex-employees an opportunity to spin conspiracy theories, which fuel anger and resentment. Be kind and respectful, but also as candid as possible," he said.
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