You’ve noticed one of your employees seems unusually agitated and out of sorts. What should you do? Follow these three tips for handling frustrated employees.
Don’t Ignore the Problem
When you see an employee struggling, it can be tempting to bury your head in the sand. After all, maybe things will fix themselves? Generally, this is a bad policy. These types of situations seldom self-correct. Instead, resolve to figure out what’s wrong sooner rather than later. Often, frustration is an early warning sign of trouble ahead. So, being proactive can save you from bigger issues down the line.
Have a One-on-One Conversation
Now, you need to have what may be a difficult conversation. Above all, be emphatic. You don’t want to embarrass your employee or put them in an uncomfortable spot. Find a time to have a private meeting and avoid accusations. Rather than saying, “Your attitude has been terrible lately. What’s going on with you?” use a gentler approach, such as “It seems like something is wrong. Let’s talk about this.” Give your employee a chance to explain their point of view. And, recognize, you may end up hearing some uncomfortable truths. However, keep the conversation focused too. This shouldn’t turn into a finger-pointing rant. Your goal is to work together to identify the underlying cause of their stress.
Develop Solutions and Follow Through
Once you have discovered what’s going wrong, brainstorm practical solutions. For example, if an employee feels bored and underchallenged, you could offer them stretch assignments and/or professional development opportunities. Or, if they are struggling to get along with a difficult coworker, you may be able to switch up their team. Also, in some cases, the employee may realize they simply are in the wrong place. If this is true, collaborate to develop an acceptable exit strategy. Finally, remember, a single conversation (no matter how productive) won’t magically solve all their problems. Schedule a follow-up meeting, or two or three, so you can check-in, make necessary adjustments and keep them on track.
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