Extraordinary Team Blog

Unhappy Managers Cost Organizations Billions: Tips for Managers to Cope

Posted by Joseph Sherren on December 1, 2015

Survey after survey has shown that, in general, 65 percent of employees are not satisfied with their job. Recent research conducted by Right Management showed that only 35 percent of employees indicated that they were either “satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” on the job.

It gets worse. A global survey on worker engagement, by the pollsters at Gallup reports: Only 16 per cent of Canadians are engaged in their work, 70 percent are not engaged and 14 percent are “actively disengaged”.

Employee dissatisfaction influences the number of sick days, attrition, stress, and increases the number of grievances and complaints. This costs businesses and organizations billions. We know that unhappy employees are a big concern for organizations – but what if that employee is the manager?

Research shows that almost 75 percent of employee dysfunctional behaviour is caused by their immediate manager.

When the boss is unhappy, it not only affects their own performance but the productivity, health, and relationships of the whole team.

If, by some chance, this is you, start by understanding what is making you unhappy. Determine the source. Is it the job in general, the work that you do, or the people you are working with?

Sometimes managers — especially new managers — are not happy with the people they have been assigned. This is frustrating because these new managers had no input as to who would be reporting to them. While it is natural to compare people to other high performers, not everyone is an “A player”. A manager’s job is to coach their people to become “A players”.

So what can an unhappy manager do to make this situation better?

  1. When staff behavior is not in alignment with your expectations, assume positive intent — people are trying to do the best they can, but something is getting in the way.
  2. Be patient and accept those employees with less judgment.
  3. When managing new people, do not compare them to others you have worked with.
  4. Invest the time to hear “their story”. There may be issues you may not be aware of.

If it is the role itself you dislike:

  • Be prepared to modify your expectations. You were promoted for your leadership potential. Initially, you may be required to perform non-management tasks, but this too shall pass.
  • Often the dissatisfaction is caused because you are not familiar with the job itself and cannot perform it as well as you would like. Realize that as you get more experience, the job will become more comfortable for you. Stick with it and enroll in training programs to become more proficient.
  • Restructure the job to make it more congruent with your talents.

If you try these strategies and are still unhappy, there are three possibilities you should seriously consider:

  1. You are probably in a job that you just do not like. Find something that you have more passion for. Life is too short to be doing something you dislike.
  2. Engage a professional consultant who can offer scientifically validated assessments to determine your true talents. Then find a job that will leverage these talents.
  3. Develop a plan to find your “dream job”. Go back to school. This could result in making less money- but it will be worth it in terms of health, happiness, and personal success.

My question for managers this week: “What is your plan if you do not love coming to work everyday and are feeling unhappy or stressed?”

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