How to Deal with Frustrated Employees
Years ago, I said no to a boss. I hated it.
I’m a getter-done type. Saying no was painful. It was unexpected for her to hear as well. I’d always said yes.
She pressured and threatened. I replied that I wanted my job description changed. She said it might result in a pay cut. I didn’t care. I’d said yes too many times.
The more I did, the more I was expected to do. Quality of work declined. Things fell through the cracks. I felt like a squirrel in an exercise wheel.
My job description was changed. My pay wasn’t cut. Foolishly, I checked-out that day, but kept my job. I should have quit. Instead, I wasted several years collecting a paycheck.
Listening to frustration:
- Get to the bottom of the issue before pushing for yes.
- Thank them for speaking up.
- Keep your frustration that they didn’t speak up sooner to yourself.
- Care more for them than the work. Commit to their well-being if you expect them to commit to yours.
- Determine if you want them on the team or if it’s time for them to go.
- Listen to frustrations without minimizing, cajoling, or threatening.
- Recommit to aligning people with meaningful work.
- Ask yourself what role you played in burning them out.
- Reassign them if appropriate..
- Time off isn’t a long-term solution.
- Monitor the emotional state of your team. Successful leaders lead emotions.
- Go to frustrated employees before they come to you. Act quickly and decisively.
- Explore options. Perfect solutions don’t exist. Work to make things better, not perfect.
- When frustrations persist, redefine jobs, reassign responsibilities, enhance skills, or help them find new work inside or outside your organization.
How do you deal with frustrated employees?
What advice do you have for frustrated employees?
Thank you Dan for letting us see into your past pains and disappointments. Role models and their inspiring actions are more relate-able and seemingly attainable when we see their imperfections too.
Which leads into how I often help others with their frustrations. I commiserate and share my own experiences of prior frustrations (if it’s the more macho type I might just say “that f***ing sucks”). Then I ask if they want me think on any way I could help proactively or would just prefer me to be an enagaged listener.
Thanks James. I appreciate your affirmation about being open. I tend to be private, perhaps too much so.
Love how you let others define the relationship. This clarifies and simplifies the path forward.
So, so true Dan. We must take responsibility for our work. We must exhaust every opportunity to make it work for us AND the company. Only after we have tried everything should we quit otherwise we risk making the same mistakes all over again in the next company. Your advice above to managers is actually great advice for employees too. 🙂
Thanks stuartart. I just noticed you are an abstract painter. That’s cool.
Now, back to the topic of the day. Your warning that we may just make the same mistakes over again is so powerful. Do your best to work it out not run away.
One thing that helps me see that I’m running away is if I’m blaming others for the predicament I’m in. We better take responsibility or we’ll end up in the same place.
It’s pretty common that frustrated leaders I talk with talk more about what they want others to do, rather than what they can do.
So how do you help them see the reality Dan?
Unfortunatley this is happening at an alarming rate. If you are a leader who take’s great pride in professing you and your people are doing, (you may have heard this before), ‘more with less’. That leader had better get used to doing a WHOLE LOT MORE WITH A WHOLE LOT LESS cause that’s exactly what this phylosophy produces. Burn-out, disengaged, overworked and often unappreciated workers. The really sad comentary,, not everyone in your organization will burn out, “just the one’s whom continually step up to the plate to get the job done”. I refer to this as the 20 80 rule, 20% of your people do 80% of the work. Here’s the tricky part. You really can’t tell when somone’s about to reach their burnout point. So, what do you do to avoid losing that small sector of reliable employee’s, ‘Trash’ the idea of doing more with less. Part of the leaders job is to find ways to inspire more to ‘get in the game’. And if after attempt after attempt these folks refuse to do their part, maybe it’s time they part company. This is an excellant example for recognizing the vast importance of teams. To know when your team is reaching the burnout stage requires you really know your team. I can not agree more Dan that a leader can not wait for their employee’s to make them aware of impending burnout, the leader should see it and take steps to see it does not happen. “Dan you’ve been knock’n it outa the ballpark in 2014”. KEEP-ON-KEEP’N-ON my friend!!!
Thanks SGT Steven. Love your approach to this – not more with less but inspire more to get in the game.
You help me think about all the people in organizations who say, “It’s not my job.”
Here’s respect for your insights.
Steve, I think it is important to note that “leaders” seek out the causes of frustration.
The most important thing modern leaders forget:active listening.
So-o true. Most folks only listen to reply, ‘not’ to understand. This includes leaders. Liistening is really a lost art. Thanks Steven!
Say that again. 🙂
In a poor economy it is much easier to simply replace a dejected employee, which is why I think people are going nuts out there nowadays. Businesses can care less about employees when seen as replaceable chattel. Fight for your lives hang give YOURSELVES a raise by getting out of debt: read my blogs on how to do this.
Thanks caesarbc. Great point. Fear makes us do things we might not do otherwise. Need also. Sometimes we just need the job.
When people are fearful, great organizations don’t play on their fears. It’s a great opportunity for great organizations to treat people with respect and dignity during times when they could easily be replaced.
A day is coming when the tables will turn. Build loyalty now; enjoy it later.
“Better, not perfect.” I like that. I think that’s one key thing that leaders can focus on that will reduce our stress and frustrations. How can we make things better for our employees? How can we make things better for our clients? We don’t have to be perfect, as long as we are always looking to improve.
Thanks David. I’ll take the other side of this too. Anyone who rejects better because it’s not perfect needs to hit the road. They aren’t going anywhere.
Several years worth of blogging on this one Dan!
The key thing for me is that if someone is frustrated then multiply that by 10 or more for those they impact or influence, and if that doesn’t motivate change nothing will – in many ways it’s the hardest thing for a leader to act on as one way or another they are involved and have responsibility not for how the frustrated person feels as much as the impact they have on the business.
Unlike your example my default was to walk away,( leave the business) and that’s not the answer either.
As an employee perhaps you need more patience and a little more understanding – but still the courage to walk, and as a leader you need understanding and a limited amount of patience ( so that both of you can both act soon and act correctly) – but still the courage to realize you may have bee thesaurus of it all the way along.
Not well explained by me but hopefully someone will get the drift!
Thanks Richard. I’m so glad you added the perspective of extended impact. Leaders always think about where does this take us? What are the results? How are we getting better?
My short posts don’t have room to cover all the angles. The other side of this is how frustrated employees need to take responsibility.
In the circumstance this post refers to, I let things go too long. I can blame my boss all I want. I can blame the culture. But in the end, I let things go too long.
Ha ha don’t you live predictive – ‘the cause of it’ became thesaurus
I really enjoyed this one, Dan. Thank you for sharing it. Working with and guiding the frustration of passionate employees is an art form worth perfecting. Being proactive is certainly the best way to reduce the frustration level, and increase the productivity level, yet the most difficult during busy times. Thanks, again.
Thanks Greg. There’s something powerful about “guiding the frustration of passionate employees.” Losing their passion is the worst thing we can do.
I think the reason why so many leaders can’t (or won’t) handle frustrated employees is because often times the frustration is at the very least a derivative of their frustration with their leader or the lack of leadership.
I get frustrated at work regularly because most of the management team are stuck in their office all day, and make little effort to lead their team. If I don’t stick my head in their office and make a point of bringing something up, it won’t get discussed or dealt with until it is too late, which is also when they ask me why something isn’t done.
Overall I like my job very much, but I would like some more “present and accounted for.”
When I mentioned “present and accounted for”, I was refferring to leadership.
You’re freaking me out, Dan, with so many excellent themes and leadership pearls of wisdom. Like Maslow who did not focus on how
people fail but rather “why people succeed,” I look for optimal wellness in leaders, organizations and in the things I read.
This post on frustration and burn-out, for example, could have easily been about clinical depression and professional demise. Instead, you turned frustration into a recognizable workplace symptom and perhaps burn-out into “dis-ease”–when a staff member is “not at ease” in his or her position, but not a clinical affliction per se.
I think there must be a great satisfaction and fulfillment for leaders to bring a staff member out of frustration or burn-out…if they take a moment to enjoy who they are, what they’ve done, and how far they’ve come in their leadership role.
Yeah To Thine Own Self Be True, is TOUGH when trying to keep a job to get the bills paid.
Trying different stuff to get out my own so I do not have to put up with it.
Thing is if I got that people pleasing thingy and I do not fix it, I will just keep doing it to myself in other places.
SP back to oxy production
Suffering is optional. It is up to both the leaders and employees to take the initiative in resolving workplace issues. The frustrations will have to be dealt with sooner or later, acting proactively can minimize potential mental anguish and business disruptions.
“Thank them for speaking up” – can you imagine how many conversations they have had with themselves before coming to you? Ask yourself why you haven’t noticed or if you did why you didn’t do anything? I’ve spent 12 months in frustration – only 1 more month to go before I start my new job
Reblogged this on the ChangeYourLife blog and commented:
Excellent post about how managers can deal with frustrated employees reveals lessons for both parties…
I, too, have been a frustrated employee. After having many of my ideas denied far too many times, I shut down. Not good. I hated working for my supervisor and just “did my job”. After a few months, I made a conscious decision to be positive and happy and begin looking for other employment. I haven’t found it yet, but I feel better because MY attitude changed.
I wish every boss could think like this. #8 especially.
Care more for them than their work, WOW. this really is the theme for the year love it.
God bless you Dan.
Hi Dan, I enjoyed this post so much and thought my own readers would benefit from it…so I reblogged it. You can see here it here: http://thechangeyourlifeblog.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/how-to-deal-with-frustrated-employees/
Hope that was ok. Stu 🙂
I really enjoyed this blog. I am on the receiving end of this (I am a frustated employee) In my case I believe that it may be time for me to move on to another job out of the organization.
Thanks for this post I will reblog this so that my friends can see this as well. Great information 🙂
One of the main task of an employer is to maintain a good working environment for his employees. If there’s a destructive conflict then he must do something to resolve the problem
If you have problems with your employees then it’s important to find out the problem and determine solutions.
Also, always keep in mind that one of the key thing to do to handle angry employees is to stay calm and always in control. Listening also plays a vital role.
Reblogged this on The World of Software Development and commented:
This is a great post for anyone who deals directly, or even indirectly with customers, or your own employees. I think what I appreciate the most is the comments of how really as individuals we must focus on others and not on ourselves.
I’m reblogging this because I know many people who would benefit from this information, especially in my field.
What a great blog post! Thanks for sharing, Dan!
“The more I did, the more I was expected to do. Quality of work declined. Things fell through the cracks.” – that could have been me, or indeed most of the team I’m in, saying that.
I was signed off work with stress for a month at the start of the year. My Manager was great (concern for my well-being/taking away some of my work etc), but expectations “higher up” the company were somewhat unrealistic. You’d think that when about 1/2 a team have had to have time off people would realise that there’s something seriously wrong!
I came back changed, much more able to say “no”. An extra staff member was employed, However three months on and I’m aware of pressure starting to build again as the number of customers has significantly increased… going to have to start saying “no” some more, followed by placing the responsibility for priorities for the work I should focus on in the time I have available squarely with my manager.
Thanks for a great blog.