CEO and Business Coaching
How Employee Frustration Can Thwart Your Business Plans
“Frustrated” employees represent a real lost opportunity for organizations. It can also mean “lost employees” as neglected frustrations can be a big factor in why employees leave. From a motivational perspective, organizational leaders have these employees where they want them. But when it comes to ensuring that they are as productive as possible, organizations are missing out.” – The Hay Group
Most leaders are familiar with the challenge of engaging uninspired employees. We talk about how to get our employees excited about work again and boost their productivity. Less frequently discussed is the problem of employees coming to work completely motivated, but lacking the resources they need to fully perform. As seen in the model for Managing Complex Change, this leaves employees in a state of frustration.
The Hay Group estimates that one in five employees may be “frustrated.” Depending on the situation, the resources they lack could span from tangible items such as dollars or office space, to the less tangible, such as institutional support or feedback from their manager. Ultimately, CEOs, presidents and executive leaders have a key role to play in finding a solution.
Neglecting Employee Frustration Has Consequences
Failing to address employee frustration risks your employee team succumbing to:
- Obstructed Communication – A characteristic of people who feel frustrated at work is that they often do not communicate their feelings. They’re not complainers, even when their ideas are not being heard or their efforts supported. They put up, shut up — until they’re fed up. A manager quickly loses access to these people as they shut down.
- Turnover – Your best and most promising people are the least likely to put up with frustrating circumstances for long. They can go elsewhere. Employee turnover of your best people exacerbates the frustration felt by the remaining team which is another reason why employees leave.
- Quality Issues – When an organization pushes through a product without adequate resources, the quality is impacted. The frustration and discouragement felt by employees who know their work could have been of much higher quality can spoil motivation. Across the board standards get adjusted lower, the feeling of “this is all the boss wants” creates a cycle from which it is difficult to break free.
- Other Negative Feelings – People might feel as though their efforts are being thwarted, that they are being blocked from expressing their ideas and doing better in their jobs. It can generate a host of psychological issues that run from anger and annoyance to exasperation and disappointment — all of which are debilitating, especially in situations of change.
How Can Frustrated Employees be Helped?
What’s to be done about frustration in the workplace? Leading a team takes a lot of energy and patience and more than anything a steadfast commitment to communication. Organizations, and change leaders, can start by encouraging their people to talk about the key issues from their perspective and how they are affected.
Employees need to freely express their views and ideas for changing the situation. While potentially messy and challenging, it will provide the velocity needed for improving your workforce, a momentum that is critically important to ensuring productivity as well as dealing with a core issue as to why employees leave.
When people feel listened to and validated, and a management team starts looking for alternative solutions, not only does this alleviate frustration, it also reduces the pressure on management and future time required for solving a problem. Try it!
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