I’ve written before about jerks at work and the negative effect of bullying and bad behavior in the workplace. In those posts, I’ve explained some of the research behind how such behavior also negatively impacts the bottom line.
Robert L. Johnson, founder and president of the RLJ Companies, explained this even more fully from a CEO’s perspective in the New York Times “Corner Office” column, especially why anger has no place in the workplace:
“The one thing is that I just don’t want people to get angry. … I just don’t understand anger and conflict in a business. If you think about it, in a business you’re working to make money for somebody … If we’re not angry, and we work together, we make more money. If we get angry and we have conflict, we make less money. So let’s not get angry. Let’s just work it out. …
“And by the way, even if you do get angry, it’s not going to solve the problem. All it’s going to do is reverberate around the office that so and so made a mistake and so and so is angry at them. Then a whole cloud of frustrations and anger pervades the office. And so all of a sudden you get a breakdown in the culture of cooperation and collegiality, and the common mission goes out the window. And it’ll take you a week or so to get everybody back together.”
Mr. Johnson succinctly teaches 3 clear lessons about why anger should be kept out of work:
- Anger costs you money.
- Anger doesn’t solve the problem.
- Anger breaks down your positive culture in which the work gets done better and faster.
So why do we allow people to get away with anger and similar emotions at work? I think it’s because we justify these behaviors as “passionate.” After all, someone who gets so angry must care a good deal about the work or the results, right?
Mr. Johnson gives the lie that that argument:
“I’ve never had the emotion of anger. Some people think I’m sort of not passionate or I’m kind of cold or disinterested because I don’t rant and rave and everything else. I don’t do that. And I think it’s a simple rule — more insecure, more anger; more secure, less anger. I think really great companies are populated by people who are confident, secure and less fearful.
“Just think about companies that really stay at the top all the time. They don’t have a lot of turnover. There’s a lot of continuity because the environment is conducive to people wanting to be there, and they want to stay there.”
And with that parting shot, Mr. Johnson gives us a bonus reason to eliminate anger in the workplace: increased retention.
Does anger pervade your workplace? Is it condoned or does leadership actively work to promote an environment that dissuades anger?