Gary Friedman, head of Restoration Hardware Holdings Inc., recently went off on his whole company with a flaming internal memo written mostly with the caps lock on. The blaring caps was loud enough to catch the attention of several in the media.
In the Bloomberg report, the now public rant pointed fingers at his customer service department because of an increase in canceled orders, which climbed to 17 percent, up from 5 percent. But the threat of termination in the memo spared no one.
As you dig deeper into this story, the angry memo was really a reaction to a bigger issue: RH's declining sales and dismal stock value.
Friedman defends himself by calling his belittling of employees "empowering," and says "we have a leadership culture, not a followship culture." I think he meant followership, but we catch his drift.
What Friedman is missing is that leadership implies followership; you're not leading if no one is following, especially when jobs are being threatened by the CEO over internal memos.
Manage Your Anger, Don't Let It Manage You
Did Friedman's anger get the best of him, and did his rant go too far? According to this Forbes article, reaction of retail industry experts varied, but many would agree it did.
Friedman, and others like him, may have the best-of-intentions to set direction, but what they lack is the emotional intelligence to see things through other filters before pulling the anger-trigger.
Listen, anger is one powerful human emotion. It is also a very normal human emotion that needs to be expressed in a healthy way. But there's a place and time for appropriate anger, and we all have to learn how to manage it.
Inappropriate displays like Friedman's can kill your culture, diminish trust and send your employee engagement ratings spiraling downward. If mismanaged, it can be your baddest enemy, and sabotage your ability to lead well.
Stepping back and looking at root causes, you'll soon realize that your anger is really a reaction to whatever is disturbing you, usually something unresolved at the bottom of your pile -- feelings of anxiety, worry, fear of failure, humiliation, or powerlessness.
These are the primary emotions you need to deal with as you contemplate how to make payroll when cash isn't flowing. Anger is the secondary emotion. So what's really bugging you?
When anger comes knocking, and it will, we have to know how to deal with it appropriately so that it doesn't get the best of us. That reminds me of the great Chuck Swindoll quote,
The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.
In business, we will be faced with many instances that will force us to respond, not react, to anger. Let me offer some help.
The 7 Steps to Manage Your Anger
Here are seven steps you can put into practice today to help control and express your anger. Notice the inner dialog I've included to help you process further with healthy introspection, whatever your situation.
If you find this helpful, let me know in the comments or send me a message through our contact page.
Step 1: Stop and Set Boundaries with Those Who Anger You.
"I'm not going to allow myself to let someone 'push my buttons' or disrespect my authority."
Step 2: Think About What Will Happen if You Lose Control.
"If I lose control...." [end this sentence with potential consequences]
Step 3: Ask Yourself Why You're Really Angry.
Most likely, it may run deeper than your Social Media Strategist missing that latest deadline. What's really beneath the anger? Think back to how it all started.
"The real reason I'm angry is..." [get honest with yourself after some processing. Anger is always a secondary emotion triggered by something deeper.]
Step 4: Learn to Cope When it Happens in Order to Reduce your Anger.
"I will walk away and come back to this when I'm in better space"
"I need to acknowledge that I'm mad, go talk to someone to get better perspective and understanding."
"I am being triggered right now, so I need to relax and not react."
Step 5: When You Had Time to Think It Over, Tell the Person How You Feel. And Identify the Specific Event that Made You Feel that Way.
Example of stating feelings: "I feel very upset and disrespected.....[or enter your own emotions here]."
Example of feelings with specific events attached: "I'm upset because I felt angry when you ...[state the situation or behavior without blaming or pointing fingers]......because that type of thing hurts our great customer service [or enter your own rationale that properly justifies your anger]....."
Step 6: Process Why This Triggered Anger in You.
"I think when you disrespect the values we agreed to model as a team, I feel like you don't care and are only looking after yourself."
Step 7: Reward yourself!
"I'm in total command of my emotions and know I can take responsibility for them. I got this! Time for some Ben and Jerry's ice cream."