How to Coach an Unhappy Employee
There are many reasons an employee might be unhappy. Stress at work, stress at home, relationship stress, or sometimes even boredom can all be reasons for an employees unhappiness. Below are some pro tips to coach your unhappy employee, to help re-focus them on work.
Document your concerns
Document in writing what the employee has said or done to cause you concern. This helps you to gain a clear picture of the problem and its implications before speaking with the employee. Then present them with the documentation, so there’s no confusion on what the problem is.
Tackle the issues head-on
You could wait for the problem to resolve on its own. But you should tackle the issue with the unhappy employee head-on—before their negative attitude spreads to customers and co-workers. Waiting could end up being a costly mistake.
Work one-on-one with the employee
Work with the employee as soon as possible after their unhappiness affects their work. Focus on the employee’s view of their dissatisfaction. Figure out what might be driving their episode. Then ask for the employee’s feedback on the problem and solutions. If the employee takes part in forming a solution, they’re more likely to get with the program.
Know of your own baggage
Analyse your approach to the issue and what emotional baggage you might bring with you. Is their behaviour triggering you? Is it you or your leadership style that is making the employee unhappy? Should you call in another manager or HR for help or advice?
Assess the whole situation
What ways is this employee’s unhappiness impacting the goals of the organisation? Is it affecting customer service, employee attitudes or profits? By determining the full outcome of the situation, you can decide how best to tackle it. For example, if their mood is affecting the way they are with customers or clients, they may need to take a step back from customer facing duties.
Assess the solutions
Consider what solutions can be implemented to benefit all involved. Introduce new perspectives into the issue that will renew the employee’s sense of possibility and inspire them. Make sure the solutions meet the strategic goals of the organisation and that the employee agrees on the course of action.
After incorporating solutions, don’t assume that the problem will go away. You must follow up with the employee to determine if the chosen course of action succeeded or not. And if not, what else can be done? If the solution or solutions failed, why? Was it the solution itself or the employee? Don’t forget to document the follow up, both for HR and for your own learning experience.