Have you ever had or been that employee that just couldn’t get it together? Constantly late? Seemingly unhappy with the job or company? At the time, it may seem that the only resolution is to part ways. But, wait…
First, realize that the dissatisfied employee is not alone. As a matter of fact, they are part of the majority. According to the 2016 State of the American Workplace Gallup poll, 67% of those surveyed either hate their jobs or are completely disengaged. Sadly, that number hasn’t budged much over the past decade and a half, remaining between 67 and 72 percent since 2002. Why is that? The key is in the answer because it is estimated that lost productivity, stolen goods, and missed days of work cost the U.S. nearly $500 billion each year.
The troubled employee is either displaying passive aggressive behavior or outright complaining about his/her job or the company. Why shouldn’t you fire the employee? They have valuable information! Only they hold the true key to unlocking this mystery and with the statistics above, firing them may only result in a twin replacement. As a manager, executive, or business owner it is your job to find out if their unhappiness is personal in nature or if there is some substance displeasure that warrant a closer look and strategic action.
If they are in fact passive aggressive or have not expressly stated their issue, the best place to start is by asking why they are unhappy or what is the problem? That may sound simple and easy enough, but if they are already unhappy and disengaged, it may take some investigation and creativity to get them talking (or writing). Once they do, BE OPEN and LISTEN. A shocking, 96% of people do not voice complaints to the company involved, most of them simply walk away and never look back. The danger in them walking away is that you may never know the reason, how to fix it, and with whom they will share their experience. If you don’t know, you can’t adjust, adapt, or grow.
Approach the employee and issue with this in mind: When an employee is engaged and their needs (basic needs, individual needs, teamwork needs, personal growth needs) are met, they are emotionally and psychologically attached to their work and workplace. Subsequently, their individual performance increases and they drive their team and organization towards improved critical outcomes. It is guaranteed that the dissatisfaction lies in one or more of their needs not being met.
Out of your dialogue with the employee or employees you may glean an opportunity for individual coaching or a fresh look at some necessary changes. Do not be afraid to address the elephant in the room! If at the end of the conversation it is determined that the employee and the department or organization are not a good match, then be willing to admit it, help the employee understand it, and help them to find something else that fits. Ultimately, the key takeaways should include lessons learned and an action plan for both parties.