How to Cope with an Unhappy Team Member

How to Cope with an Unhappy Team Member
January 12, 2016 Linda Murray

Athena Coaching, Linda MurrayAs you may already be aware, job satisfaction for your team plays a significant role in their productivity. According to research reported in an infographic by Good Company, happy employees were three times as creative as their unhappy team members and also had 31% higher productivity and 37% greater sales.

In addition to lost sales and other opportunities, unhappy employees are quite costly for the businesses that employ them. This Gallup Poll on global workplace engagement shows that nearly a quarter of all employees worldwide are actively disengaged. This means that these team members are so unhappy in their position that they are actively looking for ways to sabotage their workplace. Unhappiness can lead to poor customer service experiences as well as decreased motivation and morale for your entire team.

While it might be tempting to ‘free up the future’ of the offending team member, recruiting and training costs are expensive as well. Even when these costs are not a consideration, your unhappy team member may still be the best candidate for the job simply because of the experience and technical skills that they possess. The challenge for leaders at all levels is learning how to cope with an unhappy team member and lead them towards re-engagement with your business.

4 Tips for Dealing with Unhappy Associates in Your Team

Active Listening

You might assume that you know why your team member is dissatisfied, but assumptions can be dangerous and counterproductive. Take the time to speak with your associates and actively listen to their concerns. Doing so will show your respect for the employee, and can also provide you with valuable clues as to the root of their unhappiness and how you should proceed.

For example, by talking with your employee, you might find that they are having difficulties in their personal life that are affecting their mood and ability to concentrate at work. If this is the situation, you might consider offering your team member a lighter or more flexible work schedule during the short term. Some companies offer their associates counseling or provide other employee assistance programs, so be sure that your colleague is aware of services that can help them.

Other times, your employee may be dissatisfied with their specific projects and assignments, a fellow co-worker, or even the amount of resources that are available to complete their work. Remain open to suggestions from your associate. Reassigning your team member to a different type of task that makes better use of their skills might be all that is necessary to ease their discontent.

Often, the fact that you are actively listening to your associate will renew their spirit and dedication to the job because you have shown them that their performance and work matter.

Offer Praise and Recognition and Take a Break from Routine

In addition to talking with your employees and seeking ways to help them, make sure that you offer public praise and recognition when they do perform their jobs well. Perks such as designated parking, buying them lunch, or small honorariums, such as a gift card to their favourite shop, show team members that their hard efforts are noticed and can go a long way towards improving employee morale.

Look for ways to shake things up in your workplace and injecting a hint of fun and excitement into the daily routine can also go a long way to lightening the atmosphere and helping unhappy team members enjoy their work again.

Give Team Members More Choices

Rather than being cut from the same mould, everyone is an individual with unique talents and needs. Look for ways to offer your associates more choice in their daily life at work. As much as possible, try to allow your associates as much autonomy as you can in how and when they get the work done, and the specific assignments that they take on. As you give your employees more freedom their sense of responsibility and productivity will improve along with their morale.

Document Everything

While a good leader can often lead an unhappy team member back into the fold, sometimes circumstances remain out of your control and despite your best efforts, you may need to release a team member. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep a record of all meetings and conversations that you have with employees. Document all action plans, as well as any disciplinary measures, just in case termination winds up being the solution.

Unhappy team members have the power to derail all of your ideas and hard work and can be the source of a significant challenge even for the most experienced leaders. Rather than firing an otherwise qualified employee, try these simple techniques to help you lead your team to an improved outlook and greater productivity.

Need more help learning how to handle difficult team members? Get in touch today and ask how the Athena Leadership Academy can help you to perfect your personal leadership development.

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