How to Deal with Frustrated Employees

dead end

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:

  1. Get to the bottom of the issue before pushing for yes.
  2. Thank them for speaking up.
  3. Keep your frustration that they didn’t speak up sooner to yourself.
  4. Care more for them than the work. Commit to their well-being if you expect them to commit to yours.
  5. Determine if you want them on the team or if it’s time for them to go.
  6. Listen to frustrations without minimizing, cajoling, or threatening.
  7. Recommit to aligning people with meaningful work.
  8. Ask yourself what role you played in burning them out.
  9. Reassign them if appropriate..
  10. Time off isn’t a long-term solution.


  1. Monitor the emotional state of your team. Successful leaders lead emotions.
  2. Go to frustrated employees before they come to you. Act quickly and decisively.
  3. Explore options. Perfect solutions don’t exist. Work to make things better, not perfect.
  4. 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?