In this post I want to explore why it’s just as important for you as a manager to do everything in your power to keep your people from slipping into the abyss of workplace disengagement and demotivation.
The fact that the unhappy worker can have a profoundly negative effect on the bottom-line factors in your business – especially when this might be caused by your inability to understand the core behaviours and potential of your people – makes this an important message.
The unhappy worker…
- Wastes time (theirs and yours)
To the unhappy worker procrastination comes easily and the mind wanders gladly. Can you really afford a team of time wasters (and have no choice but to pay the required overtime) when your next deadline is looming?
Procrastination is often the result of having too much to do or not knowing where to start, so think carefully about your employee’s ability to act on information, their learning pace and how quickly they’re able to use their initiative.
You might also want to consider how your employees will respond to pressure. Knowing this could help you set achievable targets, plan realistic deadlines and motivate successful outcomes.
- Doesn’t care about customer service (or customers for that matter)
If your employees don’t care about your clients, do your clients really care about your next contract renewal offer?
Some personalities naturally thrive on building relationships working with and for others; others are naturally task focused and introspective.
You might automatically think that socially driven customer-facing employees would suit the role better, but other factors do come into play. Consider things like formality, preference to working with structure, attention to detail and capability to develop expertise in your products or services, especially when hiring your next customer service workers who are required to do the “right thing” for your clients.
- Loses focus (and motivation) fast
It’s very easy to lose focus on tasks that you don’t find interesting or which you might be overqualified (or indeed underqualified) to do. Once focus is lost, mistakes can be made and the quality and safety of the end-product can be compromised. With your tech-savvy customers now able to reach huge audiences in seconds via social media, a single complaint caused by a careless mistake can now have serious consequences for your brand.
Could it be the time for you as a manager to look at job roles in terms of their behavioural demands, as well as the skills, experience and training that are required for success?
This might help you shed light on why people react in different ways when tackling the demands of the same job, and contribute towards you getting a better job-fit the next time you’re hiring.
- Breeds discontent and mutiny
Dissatisfaction seldom remains isolated; don’t expect your employees to keep their feelings to themselves. A queue of people with grievances waiting at HR’s door is going to do very little for productivity in the workplace.
A recent report from HBR found that among unhappy employees and their managers, both groups shared a mutual distrust of one another. Even the smallest gripe can kick-start a chain reaction of complaints.
Managers can strengthen the trust of their employees through consistency, authenticity, honesty, openness and a visible show of interest in meeting the motivating needs of ALL members of their staff. It’s also worth noting that some personalities, especially introverts, can be naturally suspicious of friendly gestures, so tailor your communication styles according to the recipient and his/her preferences.
- Does the bare minimum
Would you work harder for a company that doesn’t value your satisfaction or help you reach your potential? Or would you be looking elsewhere for a company that does…
We’ve already seen that happy workers really will go the extra mile for their boss. If you have proactive members on your team, give them the freedom they’d prefer and let their creativity run – it might well be that they’re being underutilised and you’re holding them back by not knowing how to delegate. Reactive? Brilliant – give them the support, security and information they need and watch them flourish under your leadership…
Your next breakthrough product design might be just around the corner, so keep its creator engaged, motivated and happy and shield them from the tempting grasp of your competitors. If you need a reminder why this is in your best interest, why not read the first 3 excellent paragraphs from this Forbes article!
Have you come across any of these 5 tell-tale signs of employee unhappiness in your office? Noticing them is a good start! How are you remedying them?
If the problems persist try to look past the actions and observable behaviours of your underperforming staff and ask yourself what has actually motivated the people to behave the way they do.
Spend time getting to really know your staff and their individual motivating drives, personalities and potential…you might just save yourself some hassle, and some money in the long run!
Share your opinions in the comment box below!
Do you think business leaders should take a more proactive role in motivating their employees to feel happy and productive?