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Thread: losing your temper as a manager

  1. #1
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    losing your temper as a manager

    I lost my temper on the phone with my administrative assistant for what I still think was a good reason - I rarely get mad (maybe once a year), let alone lose my temper (second time in 5 years) on the job, so when I do, it's serious -

    has this happened to you as managers?

    or in the reverse, if you get yelled at by a superior, even if it's right or wrong, what do you think? I have been yelled at but I deal with it by getting very calm and usually it all calms down but my employee didn't even try to help the situation

    now I am shaking (and not just from my liver de-toxifying itself) and questioning myself - luckily my dh was standing next to me and completely agreed with what I said (but he's private sector)

    wish I could walk over to the Independence Brew right now -

  2. #2
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    I've had situations where I wanted to lose my temper, but forced myself to back away for 10 minutes to allow myself to cool off before confronting the person a little more calmly.

    As far as being on the end of being yelled at....never by a boss....only by an angry applicant. I let him yell as much as he wanted, since he's the one that ended up embarassed in the end.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    I have been in temper-losing situations with my old boss, though we had some extenuating circumstances.

    I think that its okay to very rarely lose your temper as long as 1) its somewhat justified, and 2) you can have a serious discussion about it later.

    Where its NOT okay is when you don't know how to handle yourself afterward.

  4. #4
    I can't say I've ever lost my temper as a manager.

    I've lost my temper with my manager before, and promptly found myself out on my posterior and in the unemployment line, however. That more than likely explains why I've never lost my temper as a manager -- I always shoot myself in the foot before I get into that position.

    In my opinion, any scream-fest needs to be followed up afterwards by a more cool-headed discussion. It's entirely possible that the recipient was so worried that you were actually going to decapitate him/her, that he/she didn't actually grasp the entirety of what you were saying, what was wrong, and why you were upset. Plus, working in a tension-filled environment isn't good, nor do you don't want your subordinate running around badmouthing you for being hot-headed.

    Again, just a humble opinion from non-management material.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    I have lost my temper at one particular employee a couple of times, somewhat strategically, and have found that it worked. Both times I can remember doing it she was clearly testing my authority by either (1) telling me something couldn't be done when it could be (assuming I didn't know as much as her about a government program) or (2) telling third parties that something was not part of her job without consulting me - when it was. She's been there 30 years and I have not, plus there is some age difference. Getting angry has generally worked with her for some reason.

    So I would say that it sometimes works in very small amounts. But not with most people.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian transguy's avatar
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    I am a firm believer that one should never yell at an employee in front of other co-workers. This leads to embarrassment and eventually resentment (never good in the work environment). I would much rather have my boss be angry with me in private than in front of other people. This also helps to eliminate individuals becoming completely defensive, which rarely results in resolving the issue at hand.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    As an employee, if I want the job I have, I also want the approval of my boss. This is partly my personality, but there's just no way to get around it: getting yelled at by an authority figure is upsetting, much more so than a peer or customer.

    LP, you say you lost your temper, but not how. I'm assuming there was yelling over the phone. An appropriate follow up should probably aim at diffusing the tension created by the confrontation and setting the tone for a discussion about what set you off, if needed. A little humor and a short, sincere apology can prevent this chafing in the long term.

    My mom worked as a legal secretary for decades, and dealt with all kinds of yellers. The bosses she resented most (not that she was overly resentful) were those who she felt lacked an appreciation of the things she did well day after day to keep their practices going.

    If you make an effort to recognize the work of admins on a regular basis and let them know they are appreciated for their efforts, a loss of temper will have less impact because the boss/employee relationship will be more resilient.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian RubberStamp Man's avatar
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    If by lost your temper you mean yelling, I do not think that is appropriate or professional. We've all been there but you gotta keep it in or find some other way to vent. The fact that you are questioning what you did on this board I think says something. There are many other ways to show that you "are not happy" and serious. I agree with the above, if it occurred something should happen sooner to try to diffuse any tension.

    If I got yelled at by a superior, I would lose all respect for that person - the good working relationship we have had after all of these years would instantly vanish and I'm not so sure I would be as motivated to provide outstanding performance anymore.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Ahh....

    I'm sure its nothing a good or great lawyer can't fix......

    Having said that....if someone willfully goes against a written/oral command because of personal beliefs or dislike of a specific customer.....I'm not a happy guy
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  10. #10
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    sue me if I play too long...

    hey in here

    thanks for response, I really appreciate it -

    I actually did not yell, but I was pretty firm and clearly mad/angry, which I never do so it freaks people out when I do - my admin assistant would not do something I had asked her to do -

    I had a bomb dropped on me in a message by my town manager that my office was not being cooperative with his office on a large copying project I had left my staff to do for him while I was out, so before I called him back, I had called in to see what was going on, actually giving the benefit of the doubt to my staff, and lightheartedly asked "hey, is everything okay, I got this weird message from the TM that something is wrong in there", got silence in return, then "we'll discuss it on Monday" and then I said, "no actually, we'll discuss it now" and this went back and forth - she said she had someone at the counter and I said, "that's okay, just go to the counter, say you have an important call from me (so they'll get mad at me, not her - and I said that) and you'll be right back and then go back to another phone so we can discuss this" - so she wouldn't and yeah, that made me pretty mad - if my boss says, I need to talk to you right now, I do it - so I ended up saying, "okay, work with the counter and then call me back when they leave" - I gave her an hour, no return call, I can't leave my house to just go in as I was on a vacation day at home and had kids home, so I called back and then she laid in to me saying I can't talk to her like that, etc. so again, I got firm and said, "hey, I asked you to do something and you didn't do it" and then tried to have a conversation about what happened that made my boss upset and she said "we (I'm thinking, who is we) will discuss this with you on Monday as we are sick of you loading us up with work, and we do all this work to make you look good" - so did that make me mad, you bet it did

    as I said to her on Monday was that the good thing about anger is you get to see people's true colors and I told her I was disappointed that she had these issues bottling up and never came in to express them, especially because I know when she's mad, have pulled her aside to say is everything okay and I get back I'm fine - well, I know she's not fine because she sits in the outer office complaining with the fire chief (another problem, can you say office cancer?) about me behind my back, not realizing who can hear her and it all comes back to me - and I told her that - as I said to her "you can't make changes to your workday if you won't approach the person you report to you about them" and I told her "I think nothing of going into my superior's office and telling him what I think is wrong and sometimes things change and sometimes they can't change and that's just the way it is but that we talk about it so he knows"

    so if I lose her over this, I am okay with that - anyone who doesn't see that doing admin work like mailings, notices, phone calls and basic coordination is not to make me look good but is the job, is not somebody that should be here - she really does do a good job, so I hate to lose her but attitude is everything - so I did do this meeting with her and my still-on-probation-new-staff-planner (odd) and the Code Enforcement Officer who does not report to me (another oddity) and I listened, wrote everything down and then responded with changing some things and saying some things they want changed won't

    but, as irritated as I sound in this too long post, something happened in the last 24 hours that I'm not sure I want to be privy to because everyone is being super nice, including the fire chief - I did tell my town manager everything I just posted here and he gave me his full support - we hadn't yet decided if he was to be involved but I think he did, which is okay

    okay, I gotta go - thanks for reading this, folks - not sure what lesson there is to share at this point but I'll keep you posted...

  11. #11
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Snap!

    I lost my temper today on the phone with a pushy financial broker and developer! It was time and more than due
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  12. #12
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    I lost my temper today on the phone with a pushy financial broker and developer! It was time and more than due
    LOL - I knew I can count on The One to give comic relief!

  13. #13
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    he he he.....

    Quote Originally posted by luckless pedestrian View post
    LOL - I knew I can count on The One to give comic relief!
    Pretty much what I'm good for around these parts with all the brainiac's and neomaxi zoom dweebies.....
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  14. #14
    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    ....just another reason to be a regional planner.... sheesz... reminds me of the old days of muni planning.
    "Yeehaw!" is not a foreign policy

    Renovating the '62 Metzendorf
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  15. #15
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Hey LP, it sounds like the situation has been defused (at least for now), but I wanted to add my .02. It sounds to me like she knew she screwed up and then is trying to turn it around on you (one of my biggest pet peeves).

    Why can't people just say, you know what, I screwed up? Instead, she tries to turn it around on you and imply that it is your fault. She can be unhappy, but those are two different issues. It irritates me when people make excuses, but to use you as her excuse is ridiculous.

    You should have reasonable expectations that when you ask someone to do it, that they will do it. Not sure what happened in the last 24 hours, but hope its a good thing for you!!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian jread's avatar
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    I see yelling and screaming as childish and consider any adult who does it, especially in a professional environment, to be an embarassment. I can't say that I've ever been yelled at at work, but I do know that I would not put up with it... from anyone.
    "I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every single minute of it!"

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