Dealing with Disgruntled Employees

We’ve probably all seen it. The employee, colleague or mate who is having issues at work. Since most of us have to be at work the majority of the week, the problems can seep into everything and everywhere. Eventually what could have been a small problem becomes a big issue and before you know it they’ve boarded a plane to ‘find themselves’.

It’s fair to assume that most of us working in or around the surf industry are lucky enough that we actually want to be working where we are. It also seems that the majority of people we have the pleasure of working with have something in common and are likeminded. Does this mean we’re immune to falling out, misunderstandings or the odd work-related tantrum? No. It doesn’t. So how do you stop this from happening before it’s too late? And if you missed that mark, how do you handle it when it does?

1. Encourage a culture of feedback and improvement. We have talked about creating an awesome work culture here. But one essential ingredient in preventing employees from becoming unhappy is that you encourage them to give feedback. Have team meetings and discuss what could have been done better. Get them used to receiving constructive criticism and help them understand that you’re not putting them down, it’s not about fault and blame. This is for their personal development and career progression. Make a point of recording feedback given and include improvements and achievements in their annual employee review. This shows them you’re invested in them and that you care about how well they do.

2. Do not ignore it. Whilst a small and petty disagreement might well be fixed with a beer and a surf, if an employee is genuinely unhappy and showing clear signs of discontent, you need to address the issue immediately. Organise a meeting with them one-on-one to find out what the cause of the problem is and how you can help. Lead by example and maybe next time they will come to you straight away with issues, saving time and effort for everyone.

3. Record everything. If an employee is unhappy and you have asked for a meeting with them to discuss it, now is the time to take notes. Email them after the meeting detailing what was said by who and, if you reached a solution, outline what that was and how it’s going to roll out. That way there is no confusion, everyone is on the same page and there is a record of everything should you find yourself in the position you need one.

4. Don’t let it, run you. Take control. If rumours are spreading, get the whole team in and explain the issue and what is being done about it. If they have questions answer them honestly. Be professional and personable, you’re not the big bad wolf. But do make it clear it’s being dealt with and that everyone can get back to business as usual. If these things gain momentum they can be a giant waste of time and energy, so get it whilst it’s fresh and your team can move on to more important things.

5. Be open and understanding. Not every instance of an unhappy employee is down to something you as their manager has done. Being angry or defensive will not help resolve any issues. Rather than jump to conclusions, hear them out, let them understand you hear what they’re saying. No-one likes to feel unheard or trodden on so play nice and show them the courtesy you would like to be given if the situation were reversed. If the problem is personal, take it seriously and offer them the appropriate support if they need it. This makes you more approachable in the future.

6. Be clear about limitations. You can only do so much. In a working environment there are instances and situations when as much as you’d like to give them a pay rise or let them work from home, it just isn’t possible. You can’t be their counsellor either. This is when it’s time to gently, professionally and clearly explain the reasons behind your decision. If there is no solution or you can’t give them what they want, talk about other possibilities. Sometimes though, a role or a company is just a bad fit and that might mean them moving on. See this as a learning opportunity and in the future you can be more focused and informed when making hiring decisions.

7. Be positive. If you are managing people it’s down to you to show everyone else how it’s done. If things aren’t great, talk to everyone, make sure everyone is on the same page and remain focused and positive about where you are going, what you are trying to achieve and why this matters. If something goes right, make sure to let everyone know they did a good job. Having fun and celebrating successes generally helps to keep employees looking for opportunities to do awesome work.

What would you add to this list? Have you been in this situation and what would you recommend from your experiences? Sharing is caring people...

Posted by: Sarah Price, on August 18, 2014
Categories: Articles