If you’re an employer, there’s no getting around the fact that you’re going to encounter unhappy or disgruntled employees. It’s simply the nature of employment. (Or perhaps more accurately, it’s the nature of human nature.)
There are two main categories of unhappy employees:
- Unhappy employees who are productive and provide value to the organization.
- Unhappy employees who are not productive and do not provide value to the organization.
Now, there’s a chance that an unhappy employee could provide value if they were happy. However, there’s also the chance that they won’t provide value even if they were not disgruntled. So whether you terminate the employee or not is up to you,
In the meantime, though, below are five steps for dealing with an unhappy or disgruntled employee:
#1—Step back to assess the situation.
What you don’t want to do is take rash action. You should consider carefully all of the elements associated with it. The most important thing is to proceed in a way that will benefit all the parties involved (if that’s possible). That includes the employee, their co-workers, and the organization.
#2—Don’t wait too long.
While you don’t want to be too rash, you also don’t want to do this. That’s because a situation such as this one can fester. When an employee is disgruntled, they usually become more disgruntled over time if nothing changes. So not only is it important to take the right course of action, but it’s also important to take that course of action within the optimum amount of time.
#3—Keep the situation private.
There’s no reason to broadcast anything, and that includes what you think about the situation or what you plan to do about it. This is definitely a case in which other people only need to know about what’s happening if they absolutely need to know. That’s because all it takes is for one wrong person to be part of the situation to make it go from bad to worse. That’s the last thing you want.
#4—Approach the employee calmly and confidentially.
This should be done in a discreet fashion. Don’t walk out to where they work and say, “Dave, I need to see you,” in front of his co-workers. That could be embarrassing for them. (Especially if their name is not Dave.) Let the employee know that you’d like to talk at a time that would be convenient for them and when they would be the most at ease and relaxed.
You don’t know which way everything is going to go, so it’s best to keep a record of all interaction with the employee. Document what the employee says and how they act. You’re not doing this because you have a vendetta against them. You’re doing this to protect yourself and also the organization. While you want to help the employee, your first loyalty lies elsewhere. Once again, the goal is to create a win-win situation.
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