Within any organization, there will always be an opportunity to deal with a frustrated employee. And frustrated employees aren't productive employees and odds are they are affecting the morale and productivity of those around them.
Some frustrated employees will never speak up regarding their frustrations, be it feelings of being unheard as an employee or mistreated as a team member. Their feelings eventually turn to anger or resentment until they finally resign. When an unhappy employee does confide in you, it becomes an opportunity to turn that situation around for an employee who may be a valuable contributor to the organization.
Start by listening to the employee. Do not try to immediately determine if they have an actual problem. That can sometimes be a first reaction, but it is not what they are looking for when they come to you. The important thing to remember is they perceive there is an issue which needs to be discussed. Let them talk through it and work with them to really understand their point of view.
Show the employee you genuinely care about their issue and then work to find out why they feel the way they do. By talking through it, the two of you can get to the underlying cause and hopefully find a solution. Follow these simple steps to turn a frustrated employee into one with a more positive outlook:
- Appreciate Feedback – Show your employee how much you value the time, energy and the courage it took for them to come to you with this situation.
- Empathize – Offer your employee understanding about their situation. Take the time to understand the situation and be genuine in your delivery. Otherwise, you will come off sounding like you are patronizing them.
- Get the Details – Have the employee outline for you what led up to their becoming frustrated with the situation. Let them know, if appropriate, that you will investigate the issue(s) and therefore the more detail they can provide, the more quickly a solution can be found.
- Offer an Apology – Providing your employee with a heartfelt, honest apology may be appropriate. You may not be directly responsible, but you are not apologizing for the issue, you are offering an “I’m sorry” for the way your employee feels as a result of the issue.
- Take Action – At the end of the discussion, your employee is going to want to know what you intend to do about the situation. They may not ask directly, but you need to convey your plans to take action. Your next steps will be what they remember. This is an opportunity to enhance your employee’s trust.
- Follow Up – Offer a time frame in which you will follow up with the employee to be sure things are better. By now, you have conveyed what you feel is the solution and have hopefully executed it. Close the loop by making sure the employee is satisfied in how you handled it.
These simple steps will help you take control of a negative situation and make a very positive statement about how your organization cares for their employees. If you have questions about dealing with frustrated employees, please contact a member of CAI's Advice and Resolution team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.
What has worked best for you when you have dealt with a frustrated employee? What has worked best for you if you were the frustrated employee? Let us know by commenting here.
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