How to Motivate an Unhappy Employee - 10 Best Practices

February 23, 2022

how do you motivate an unhappy employee

Despite the best efforts of organization leaders, it is possible that some employees would be unhappy. Here we will discuss ways to motivate an unhappy employee to avoid such situations.

Assessing the overall situation carefully, setting appropriate goals, and handling the disputes with delicacy is the key to motivating unhappy employees. These measures will vary depending on organizational culture, management style, and employee behavior. Let’s discuss them in detail.

Measures to Motivate an Unhappy Employee

It is common for employees to have a bad case of Monday once in a while. However, constant low motivation and productivity loss create problems for any organization and need to be addressed.

Organization managers need to be strategic and handle matters with utmost care and professionalism. He has to know how to deal with unhappy employees while addressing them. Here is a list of measures that can help leaders motivate their unhappy employees.

1. Get a Clear Picture

Dealing with unhappy employees is not an easy task. Before resolving any issues, it is essential to get to the bottom of the problem. An employee can be unhappy for several reasons, either personal or professional. Managers should sort out the reasons for employees before taking any action.

Informal conversations with the disgruntled employee and their teammates can provide certain insights. Also, previous work history and testimonials from previous managers can be quite helpful in this manner.

With this data, managers can determine the factors to handle disgruntled employees. Thus, managers can resolve particular issues to keep employees happy.

Another crucial factor managers need to determine is how their role fits into the problem. In many cases, the primary reason for employees to get unhappy lies with their direct supervisor. Some employees may not like their supervisor’s managerial style; some employees may have other serious concerns.

Despite the reason, consider all the facts and get a clear picture of the overall situation. This will allow leaders to address the matter with the required delicacy.

2. Rearrange Goals

Once managers get the detailed insights for their employees being unhappy, they can start strategizing to keep employees happy and motivated. 

In many cases, the most obvious solution may not be the best one. Everyone has a different perspective, and what may seem fair to one may not be right for another. Therefore, the whole workplace behavior may shift and increase disputes between employees and leaders.

Thus, it is important to find unique solutions to resolve problems that resonate with organizational values and motivate unhappy employees. This will allow unhappy employees to get behind the goal, increase productivity, and enrich the overall organizational culture.

3. Stage Encounter

With a clear goal in mind, the next step is to craft the perfect encounter with the particular employee. Without proper encounters, managers will get just another “Sure, boss” meeting without any valuable outcome.

To make the encounter meaningful, managers will need to identify the factors that encourage the employees. They will also need to ensure that the employees don’t feel cornered and have opportunities to have an honest discussion. 

Each employee responds to different approaches to voice their concerns and expectations. Managers will need to find out the best setting to meet employees and offer them to come up with their solution first. 

4. Don’t Wait too Much

Another crucial factor in resolving disputes between employees and management is to address the problem at the earliest possible moment. The more leaders wait to address the problem, the bigger it grows. 

Dealing with disgruntled employee situations can be uncomfortable yet a necessary step to take. Leaders should start taking proper measures to get a clear picture and strategize goals as soon as they are aware of the problem.

5. Remain Impartial and Professional

As a leader of an organization, approach employees with an impartial mind in a professional setting regardless of their inappropriate behavior and work ethics. It will allow leaders to get to the root of the problem and resolve any potential disputes beforehand.

No matter how the meeting goes, make sure to stay composed and neutral. If the employee loses temper at any moment, talk with them in a calm voice to let them cool down. If the situation escalates, give the employee some time to calm down so they can come back and have a professional conversation.

6. Offer Solutions for the Problem

In most cases, the poor performance of the employees appears to be the result of a larger problem. Therefore, managers will need to listen to the problems and offer solutions as well.

Unhappy employees are often stuck in severe problems that directly impact their performance. When managers offer them a proper solution, employees will feel validated and work better and harder to resolve the problem.

7. Documentation

Documenting the conversations between disgruntled employees allows managers to be more informed about the situation and leaves a paper trail to follow. These documents can prove to be very informative and helpful for future leaders to follow examples.

Another crucial reason for documentation is to keep the facts straight. With detailed notes, the facts are documented with evidence. Therefore, the organization can provide the necessary evidence for resolving disputes.

8. Keep the Issue Private

Every employee of an organization is entitled to their privacy. So, if the management is having a conversation with employees to resolve disputes, these meetings should be held on closed doors.

Keeping such issues private allows organizations to stop spreading rumors. Also, if the unhappy employees are subjected to bullying or harassment, leaders may not want to share details before properly investigating. 

The information concerning unhappy employees should be shared on a need-to-know basis. This will keep the organizational integrity intact and greatly help in unveiling the exact reasons for disputes.

9. Get Legal Involved if Necessary

Good leaders should know when to get legal aid. If disgruntled employees face serious issues like harassment or bullying, make sure to get legal involved to resolve matters more professionally.

Also, if the managers or any other employees are threatened by the disgruntled employees, it is wise to seek legal help. If any employee threatens anyone in the organization or shows hostile behavior, it must be mentioned to the legal.

10. Do Follow up Meeting to Resolve Issue Properly

It is almost impossible to resolve disputes with unhappy employees with one meeting. Leaders will need to check on the matters and follow up meetings with the employees to ensure that the problem was taken care of properly.

Failing to resolve matters properly will lead to spreading rumors that can taint the company’s reputation. Thus, leaders will need to ask relevant questions to ensure that the problem has been resolved. It will allow them to supervise the situation closely and prevent it from escalating.

Bottom Line

Employees in an organization can feel unsatisfied and unhappy for several reasons. It is the job of the human resource department to take measures to keep them satisfied.

Managers need to keep an open mind while trying to resolve problems with unhappy employees. Even if the problem is not organization-related, address them as well. It will demonstrate that the organization cares about its employees and make employees more engaged with the organization.

Organizations can utilize online recognition platforms to track such disputes more closely. It will allow leaders to learn about any problems in the shortest possible time and find solutions appropriate to resolve such matters. 

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