Turning down the Heat: Empowering Staff to Deal with Aggression at Work

Sandi Mann (University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 June 2004




Mann, S. (2004), "Turning down the Heat: Empowering Staff to Deal with Aggression at Work", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 389-389. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437730410538734



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This is a training resource aimed primarily at the social care sector but with some application to those whose staff deal regularly with angry or aggressive clients or customers. The resource is comprised of an A4 ringbinder containing photocopiable worksheets and handouts as well as a separate book by the same author, Managing Aggression.

It has to be said that on reviewing this material that I was looking at it from a non‐social care setting and thus found all of the examples and case studies pretty much outside of my direct experience. Much of the material seems to be aimed at dealing with those having a patient‐type relationship rather than a customer relationship. This is an important distinction for two reasons; firstly, customers have much more of a choice about using your service or not and this element always has to be considered when evaluating responses to difficult customers. The second key difference is in the nature of status within the relationship; in many of the social care settings that Braithwaite refers to, the patients (often adults with learning difficulties) seem to be treated rather like children in their expression and management of aggression (though not, I hasten to add, in all other ways) and some of the examples are thus difficult to apply to customer oriented situations.

Despite these reservations, the resource has many applications for a range of settings although I found the accompanying book far more valuable than the main ringbound resource. The ringbinder is made up of three sections:

  1. 1.


  2. 2.

    Training (consisting of ideas and schedules for running various sessions).

  3. 3.

    Training materials (consisting of overheads and information sheets).

There are 30 sessions in the training section and many of them seem rather dull with the usual discussions role‐plays. I felt that the training materials in the last section could have been more innovative and that mere information sheets and overheads do limit what can be achieved in the way of presenting information innovatively. Most of the material is simply taken from the accompanying book and put into bite‐size chunks suitable for handouts or overheads.

The accompanying book, consisting of nine chapters, is far more useful. It covers all aspects of workplace aggression from workplace culture, risk assessment to bullying at work. Again it is very much aimed at the social care sector but much can be drawn from it and applied to a range of situations, particularly those where the threat of violence is a risk.

My overall impression is that for £95 this is a very worthwhile resource for those whose staff face violence, threats, intimidation and abuse. For those who deal mainly with anger and possibly mild aggression (such as customer service departments), the resource has more limited use.

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