How to Handle Disgruntled Employees
Successful business owners have industry expertise that helps them obtain a competitive advantage over their competition. However, just because one knows his industry in and out, or has a unique product, that doesn’t automatically translate into being an effective leader. In order to run a successful business, keep your customers satisfied, and handle all administrative tasks, you need to ensure that your employees are happy and productive through the good times and the bad. While running a business, you are guaranteed to have an employee that becomes dissatisfied at one point or another. When this situation occurs, you may find yourself losing a productive employee that just needed a little attention, or in the worst-case scenario you may even find yourself facing legal action. While it is rare for things to heat up to that level, it is important to handle these incidents as they occur to prevent escalation.
When an employee becomes disgruntled, the first step is to assess the situation thoroughly. Before jumping to any conclusions, you should ask the employee why they’re upset – whether it’s because of you, another employee, frustration on the job, or an issue in their personal life. If it stems from within your company, you need to gather as much information as possible before trying to fix it – if you are going to ask other employees, try not to reveal details about the disgruntled employee’s issue to prevent the dissatisfaction from spreading. By respecting your unhappy employee’s privacy, it reassures them that they can voice their concerns. If the issue does originate from outside your business, offering to help (if you can) sets you apart from other companies and shows your employee that they are more than just a number.
It is important to address the situation quickly, before dissatisfaction spreads to other staff members. Throughout the process you shouldn’t forget to document every step – the source of the dissatisfaction, the results of your investigation, and any proposed remedies after thorough evaluation. This protects both you and the employee, in case any legal action is pursued. Obtaining your employees signature is key to avoid any he-said she-said situations after the fact.
From beginning to end, it is important to always keep your cool. When handling tense situations, sometimes the employee can become upset – keeping a calm tone of voice, speaking gently and asking them to remain professional can bring them back to earth. If that doesn’t help, you may need to excuse yourself to give them time to cool off, sometimes emotions just need some time to process. You must also remember that not every situation can be resolved instantly with the flick of a switch. As business owners in a fast-paced world, we are often used to fixing things immediately, however depending on the problem it may take several discussions to solve but you owe it to yourself, your company, and the employee to stick with it.
You may come to find the problem stems from the employee himself, or another one in the business. In this situation, disciplinary action may be required. Sometimes despite our best efforts you can hire the wrong employee for a job, and sometimes employee’s attitudes change over time due to reasons beyond your control. Even if the employee being considered was once a good employee, part of being a leader is knowing when you need to replace someone on your team. As a very last option, when the situation can’t be resolved you may need to part ways in the most amicable way possible.