Merge's Blog

Workplace frustration drains motivation and lowers performance

Last week, I blogged about leaders who often get frustrated about aspects of their working environment.  See How to approach a difficult working environment.  A reader sent me a link to this paper: Workplace Frustration: A Silent Killer in Today’s Organizations  (published last year by the Hay Group) to emphasize that it isn’t just leaders who face workplace frustration, but also their employees, often because of their leaders.  Point taken.  So in the spirit of giving insights to leaders who want to make their workplaces less frustrating for their employees, I offer the following summary of the Hay Group article.

When held back by work environments that hinder performance, employees get frustrated.  Frustration is an inherently unstable state, so within a year, frustrated employees will do one of three things:

  1. They’ll find a way to break through the barriers to success in their way and continue to stay motivated.
  2. They’ll break down; they’ll stop trying.
  3. They’ll break away – they’ll quit.  And usually, the ones who break away are the top performers.

Why aren’t workplaces doing something about these high levels of employee frustration?  At least three reasons:

  1. Leadership isn’t asking employees what they can do better to support them.
  2. Employees are reluctant to voice their concerns, so leadership isn’t aware there is a problem.
  3. Leadership isn’t interested in finding out what’s wrong.

So what can leaders do to address the frustrations faced by their employees?

  • Identify the most important priorities to your employees
  • Clarify the scope of decision-making authority for your employees
  • Evaluate workplace processes regularly to ensure than they are in alignment with present goals and workload demands.
  • Critically evaluate staffing requirements against present levels.
  • View training as an ongoing process, rather than as periodic events.
  • Encourage collaboration amongst your employees so that local needs are balanced with team and organizational goals.

Now I suspect that for you, just as it was for me, there are no amazing unknown revelations in this information.  The challenge, as always, lies in the implementation.  So what gets in the way of you taking some or all of these actions to reduce workplace frustration amongst your employees?  What are the challenges inherent in your situation, and how are you overcoming them?  Please share.

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