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Turning Your Work Frustrations Into A Positive Growth Strategy
In this current fast-paced technologically driven world we're living in problems are solved at a rapid rate and this sort of instant gratification filters down to various facets of our lives, including our careers. In a world that is being geared to listen to our every need and desire and satisfy it instantly anything that doesn't do that seems old fashioned or outdated and results in frustration. There is no way to fast track your career path, it is a slow meandering learning process filled with obstacles, but it also gives us purpose and meaning to want to come to work.
While there are many reasons why an employee may be dissatisfied, I want to focus only on those who are frustrated due to the actual work and processes put in place that may be stifling, or a case where management doesn't have the insight to handle their perceived issues.
Frustration flight or frustration fight?
Employees are not motivated merely by money but also by the level of impact and contribution they can make within the company and in the outside world, and when they feel they can't, they often become bitter and tough to work with. Frustration causes stress, and in times of stress, the mind and body move into a fight or flight response.
- In fight mode, employees become combative and start to isolate themselves from others. Happy employees don’t want to associate with them because they are seen as a neverending list of complaints and cynicism.
- In flight mode, we will see talent and often top talent leave for lower pay, shorter hours and even to no job at all, because they cannot cope with their current environment.
Both instances are bad for business, allowing your talent to underperform and deteriorate under your tutelage or allowing them to leave and improve your competitors are not great options, so why is there not a third option? Well, there is, but we have not begun to consider it yet.
How companies have reacted in the past
When employees are frustrated management often sees that as a personal issue or isolated incident than a systematic flaw in their current business practices. It is often brushed under the rug, handled by promises of process changes, a promotion, salary increase or division/department switch. Management too often wants to preserve the status quo instead of looking at those brave enough to voice their opinions and consider if others feel the same way.
We've seen plenty of examples of the years of frustrated employees rallying on their own.
- Brad Bird at Pixar went against management decisions and recruited disgruntled people inside Pixar. Other misfits whose ideas had been ignored and they worked on a side project resulting in the movie, “The Incredibles,” which won two Oscars and grossed $631 million worldwide.
- Foursquare was born from the ashes of Dodgeball, which Google shut down.
- Justin Rosenstein met while working at Dustin Moskovitz and they both left Facebook to launch Asana.
- nichemarket itself was an idea born from two frustrated SEO's
So if these employees could do this without management encouragement, what could they achieve if this sort of behaviour was encouraged and fostered within the company?
How companies should look to respond
The third reaction to frustration that companies have overlooked comes from so many guides that foster entrepreneurship. We've seen this example play out so many times when a person is frustrated or disillusioned with a product or service; they went ahead and created something new. When top talent becomes dissatisfied, instead of fight or flight, sometimes they invent.
Company policy and procedure often leads them losing out on these inventions and having to pay the price for it, so why is it such a mutually exclusive approach? Why can't corporates absorb a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation?
If your employees are frustrated open up lines of communication and allow them to voice their concerns but don't let it end there, take actionable points from these concerns.
- Is there a new process on the table you can try out?
- Is there a new product that could be put on a trial?
- Is there a new tool that would make work easier, faster and more efficient?
Then get your frustrated employees to assemble task teams around these issues and work on it. If it fails you have now allowed them to work through their frustration and see that your approach is superior
If it does succeed, you've just improved your business and the mood of your employees.
Frustrate or innovate?
Do you think innovation teams are an option for frustrated employees? Doesn't it make sense to turn all that passion into something profitable and improve your business? Management is not simply there to lead but to guide and point their task force into directions that are mutually beneficial for the company and the individual.
Tell us your work story
Have you been frustrated at a job before? How did you or the company overcome it? Are there any tips you would like to share on overcoming work frustration? Let us know in the comments.
Are you looking for a change in career?
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