How to Manage Frustrated Workers… Before They Lose Momentum
By Brenda Smyth
It’s estimated that 20 percent of employees are frustrated at work. Are you managing any of them? An employee is hired to head up a project. The project stalls but the employee is still there, continuing to produce the ideas and suggestions she was hired for. But her plans end up sidelined along with the project. She’s a good employee, committed to giving her best, but her frustration builds as she sees a project she’s “in charge of” flounder at the hands of indecisive leadership or a budget shortfall.
Is she unmotivated? No.
Is she disengaged? No.
Is she unproductive? No.
But all of those things are looming if left unmanaged. She’s in a very frustrating situation—with little control over a project she wants to build as a shining example of what she’s capable of. Despite reassurances and a steady paycheck, doing a good job matters to many workers.
Frustration in the workplace is often quiet. Great employees struggle every day from diverse causes:
- Difficult or unmotivated co-workers
- Being micromanaged
- No clear vision or future plans from leaders
- Poor communication
- Lack of progress on a project
- Growing workloads with no end in sight
Frustration is an inherently unstable state, cautions a cnbc.com article. A frustrated employee may be hesitant to speak up. Or maybe they have spoken up and feel no one is listening or responding ….
The same cnbc.com article suggests that employees will respond in one of three ways—usually in 12 months or less:
- Break through the barriers. Some employees will find ways to work around the situations that bar their progress or frustrate them in other ways, i.e., they will find a way to make their high motivation levels match their work.
- Decrease their own motivation. They will reduce efforts to match their limited opportunities and support, i.e., they will stop trying so hard.
- Leave. High-performing employees may be unable or unwilling to reduce their own effort. The only way for them to correct the mismatch between their motivation and the work environment they’re in will be to look for a job somewhere else.
Keys to quickly managing a frustrated but valuable employee:
- Listen without minimizing, cajoling or threatening, suggests leadershipfreak.blog
- Thank them for speaking up—even if it should have happened sooner. Better yet, notice frustration on your own and reach out to the employee first.
- Stay calm
- Investigate the issue on your own
- Identify solutions or compromises. When possible, get input and suggestions from the employee.
- Stay involved in the results of your solution by checking back with the frustrated employee (or others involved)
Listen to frustrated employees, especially those that are or have been highly productive in the past. Their frustrations might point out weaknesses in your organization. Calmly get to the bottom of the frustration and move to resolve it, before they lose momentum or jump ship.
IRS Imposter Scams
Here’s how they work:
You get a call from someone who says she’s from the IRS. She says that you owe back taxes. She threatens to sue you, arrest or deport you, or revoke your license if you don’t pay right away. She tells you to put money on a prepaid debit card and give her the card numbers. The caller may know some of your Social Security Number and your caller ID might show a Washington, DC area code. But is it really the IRS calling?
No. The real IRS won’t ask you to pay with prepaid debit cards or wire transfers. They also won’t ask for a credit card over the phone. And when the IRS first contacts you about unpaid taxes, they do it by mail, not phone. And caller IDs can be faked.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Stop. Don’t wire money or pay with a prepaid debit card. Once you send it, the money is gone. If you have tax questions, go to www.irs.gov or call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
2. Pass this information on to a friend or relative. You may not have gotten one of these calls, but the chances are you know someone who has.
Want to know more?
Sign up for scam alerts at www.ftc.gov/subscribe.
Please report scams.
If you spot a scam, please report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
- Call the FTC at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)
- Go online: www.ftc.gov/complaint
Your complaint can help protect other people. Bu filing a complaint, you can help the FTC’s investigators identify the imposters and stop them before they can get someone’s hard earned money. It really makes a difference.
6 Tactics For Handling the Meeting Monopolizer
From The Managers’ Minute
Help! Someone has hijacked your meeting! You did everything right: A well-crafted agenda … a carefully considered invite list … you started right on time …. And now, one of the meeting participants is off on a wild tangent, repeating his point over and over and over, with no signs of slowing (or stopping for a breath).
As the meeting facilitator, how can you tactfully regain control and get things back on track, before everyone else in the room loses interest or your meeting runs long?
What to say to a meeting monopolizer:
- Address it head-on by saying something like, “Let’s table that for now and move on with our agenda,” or “I’m looking for quick input at this stage, but might come back to you on this down the road,” suggests quickbase.com. (If he or she ignores your comments, do stop the person again.) “Jim, your comments are always helpful, but I want to make sure everyone has a chance to share their ideas. Tammy, how do you feel we should address this change?” If your moderation still doesn’t work, stand up, walk over and stand behind the person, repeating your request.
- Interrupt, when the person does take a breath, ask for clarification of a major point, suggests selfgrowth.com. This might help the person organize his or her thoughts and get to the point.
- Praise the initial remarks of the monopolizing participant. Sometimes simply acknowledging his or her contributions is enough to make the person feel heard and satisfied. “Jim, I really liked your suggestion regarding our vendor list—nice idea. Now, let’s move on to the third item on our agenda.” (Say these two sentences without a breath between them so your monopolizer can’t interject before you move on.)
- If your monopolizer has a history of over talking, you’ve got a leg up. So, set the tone early. Start your meeting by explaining that you’ll be asking for input by going quickly around the room to each person. (If anyone doesn’t have input, they are free to pass.) Get agreement on a time limit. (Suggest one minute.) Setting these ground rules will also hopefully get those who are less inclined to speak up more involved.
- If the monopolizer cuts in on someone else, stop them. “Hang on a minute, Jim. I’d like to hear the rest of what Max had to say.”
- You could try joking about it, suggests Renee Evenson’s book Powerful Phrases for Dealing with Difficult People. “Jim, it’s time to come up for air and let someone else talk. From now on twenty words or less!”
When you facilitate a meeting, you cannot allow one person to take over the discussion. By design, meetings should encourage input from every participant (because if you’re not looking for a participant’s input, you probably shouldn’t have included them). But it’s up to you to hold that line—drawing out hesitant participants, tactfully shutting down meeting monopolizers and respecting everyone’s time.
Keep Your Talent: 5 Employee Retention Strategies for Long-Term Success
You spend countless hours grooming employees for their roles, investing time and effort into getting them up to speed and teaching them about the company. And for good reason: Your business’s livelihood depends on their performance. But when an employee leaves, you’re back to square one: recruiting, training and grooming all over again. And the process isn’t easy or inexpensive. In fact, the Center for American Progress found that turnover costs companies an average of 21% of an employee’s salary. So how exactly do you get employees to stick around? Here are five tried-and-true tactics.
1. Establish clear development paths
Your retention efforts should start the first day an employee is on the job. You should have open conversations about a new hire’s professional goals, and use those discussions (and regular check-ins) to come up with a structured development plan.
2. Allow company culture to guide hiring decisions
Preserving your company culture is much easier for young companies. With a handful of employees, you often don’t need to worry about cliques forming, managers passing the buck or people skipping out on company events. But as you grow, it’s harder to maintain your culture. To keep it intact, use it to guide hiring decisions. Even when a candidate has the right skills, never hire that person if he or she doesn’t fit the existing culture.
3. Focus on individual contributions
Most employees play critical roles early in a startup’s life. You might have one salesperson, one developer, one customer liaison and one marketer. If someone skips a meeting, an entire department is underrepresented. As you grow, however, every role is not as essential, and some employees might have trouble seeing the direct impact of their contributions. As your startup scales, hold regular team meetings to talk about company objectives, and tie these goals to each department — to junior staff members, specifically. You might need to spell out how they directly contribute to your company’s success to keep them engaged.
4. Lead by example
You’d be surprised how much employees value good leadership, even more than compensation at times. Leaders who don’t live up to their promises or who fail to execute on a vision can lose loyalty — and valuable employees. Encourage all leaders in your company to set realistic expectations and over-deliver on promises. Back up words with action, and empower staff members to take responsibility for their roles and contributions. And above all, be honest. Your staff deserves to know what’s going on, whether it’s good or bad.
5. Watch your winners
Most of your high-performing employees likely will receive unsolicited offers to leave your company, often for better pay and benefits. The question is: How do you not only identify, but also neutralize, potential flight risks early on? Regularly check in with top performers to make sure they’re happy with their roles, development plans and compensation packages. And consider implementing some type of monitoring system (one that doesn’t invade a person’s privacy, of course). If an employee is unusually active on LinkedIn or his productivity suddenly changes, he might be a flight risk.
Hiring the right people is your biggest hurdle. If you have talented staff members who mesh with your culture, it’s likely that most of them will want to stay with your team. But you can’t just leave employees to their own devices. You must develop their skills, acknowledge their contributions and empower them with leadership opportunities to have the best chance at keeping them around.