Managing unhappy staff 6


Employees can become unhappy for any number of reasons. The most common problems found in the workplace are employees being upset with their current job responsibilities, misunderstandings amongst employees or their manager not dealing with situations in the appropriate manner. Whatever the reason may be, the best to go to the core of the problem and resolve the situation before the situation before it escalates. If the problem is not dealt with in the correct manner, an unhappy employee can unintentionally damage the business.

Avoid waiting for the dust to settle

The first step to dealing with a problematic situation at work would be to source out the cause of the issue. By appropriately addressing the situation you could prevent it from growing into an even bigger problem. Keep in mind that one upset employee could potentially spread rumours, enraging other employees throughout the company. The Human Resources department of your company did their HR management courses for this mere reason and if the situation should escalate, call in HR.

Be professional

No matter what the situation is, whether or not the employee is at fault, remain professional at all times. Should the employee raise their voice at you, bear in mind that they are frustrated and projecting their frustrations onto you. At no point should you lose your calm and give into “fighting fire with fire.” This method of solving problems will only make the situation worse and you will find yourself no longer at a point where you can resolve the situation. Allowing frustrations to dominate your responses could give the enraged employee all the proof they need, thus escalating the situation.

Keep all matters private

Be discreet in all personal matters when it comes to employees confiding in you about their issues. There will be times where you feel that their behaviour is selfish, and this should not be an opportunity for you to tell them off in public. This could cause the employee to feel cornered, which opens up the floodgates for finger pointing and airing grievances in public as this is bad for company morale or productivity. Schedule a meeting with the employee privately and discuss the situation like professional adults.

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6 thoughts on “Managing unhappy staff

  • Tass Schwab

    What I have clearly seen in the Managerial environment, is the absolute lack of EQ. There needs to be a larger outlook on unhappy staff, and rather see that the Managers become empathetic people managers. And that this training is not exclusive, but to include staff and managers on the training so that everyone may understand this vital knowledge and gain tools to be a happy co worker. 

  • Linda Mbonambi

    Interesting article, these are some of the issues leaders must consider at work. At times you may find that the damage is deeper than you thought because you left it for a long time without attending to it. Sometimes I find that the situation is influenced by the nature of the leader managing people, especially people with no management skills. I wish this discussion reaches the relevant audience as this is huge problem in most organizations.

  • sylvia hammond

    Thanks Thokozani – yes you are right and especially that point about “nothing to do with work”  – is very important.  

    On International Women’s Day it’s appropriate to mention that violence in relationships at home is a very important aspect for many women – and something to be alert for when a women is regularly absent.

  • Thokozani Absalom

    Pretty good Chantel Harris There are a number of reasons why employees might be upset or angry. They could be upset with their current job, another employee or even you, their manager. They could be angry for reasons that have nothing to do with work.
    Whatever the reason, disgruntled or upset employees can damage your business. They can upset customers, provide poor service, do their job incorrectly (or not at all) and create a negative work environment for everyone around them.
    As a manager, you sometimes have to deal with unhappy employees and it is your responsibility to see what you can do to turn the situation around. It is not possible to keep all employees happy all of the time, but there are many situations that you can improve.

  • Lynel Farrell

    One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency!  Your sub-headings are spot on!  I hope that your discussion will reach the right people, it might just help them!  Nicely written Chantel!