Growing up, I spent most of my ‘play time’ outside. We played tag, climbed trees, made slingshots, and engaged in one of my more favorite things – ‘play fighting’ with my brothers and friends. No surprise, some of our ‘play fighting’ went a little too far actually injuring one another. Even as kids, we knew not to ‘alarm’ my sister, our babysitter, unless it was a ‘serious’ wound. After all, she might make us stop!
One day, the story was different. Mikey, my neighborhood friend, was innocently swinging a wooden bat trying to hit a softball. ‘Stupid me’ walked right behind him and Kapow! You guessed it, the bat connected with my right eyebrow splitting open my head! Then, and only then, did my sister jump to the rescue as I was bleeding profusely from my head! She knew this one was serious. Clearly, I recovered from the injury. But who knows what could have happened if my sister didn’t react in time. 🙂
This childhood story illustrates the dangers of not reacting in time. Is it possible that you might be ignoring serious employee issues that, if not caught in time, could undermine your organization and leadership?
Read on to learn the 10 surefire signs that ‘legitimate’ trouble is brewing within your ranks . . . and requires your immediate attention before more damage is done.
Sources of ‘Legitimate’ Employee Pain
The focus of this blog is not only to emphasize the need to address employee ‘pain,’ but also to help identify when the pain is ‘legitimate.’ And whether or not you should be doing something about it!
Granted, unless we are part of UFC, most of us are not subject to physical pain at work, but many of us do experience emotional and mental ‘pains’ and stresses that are directly related to our work environment.
Sources can include overloaded work demands, unhealthy working relationships, feeling de-valued, lack of alignment and focus, lack of trust, broken teams, silos, lack of communication, no vision and awareness, and not being treated with respect. And these are only a few of the things that can lead employees to ‘suffer’ in very real ways.
In many ways, I’m describing everyone’s work environment to some extent these days. The point is, leaders must proactively IDENTIFY AND ADDRESS employee ‘pains’ before they become un-bearable and even detrimental. At the end of the day, it could truly be the difference between their loyalty to your company and/or to you, and whether or not they look elsewhere.
Granted, you can resolve the issues and your people might still choose to leave. But the key is you ‘acted’ and made a positive effort to better the situation – an effort that will not go unnoticed by other employees who might also ‘be on the fence.’
To be clear, I’m not saying that you need to address every employee issue. Some things need to be addressed by the employee, themselves, for continued growth and development. Instead, I want to raise your awareness of issues that you MUST immediately and decisively address to continue to be an effective leader in shaping a productive, healthy organization.
10 ‘Legitimate’ Signs of Employee ‘Pain’ that Require Swift Attention
As leaders, I beseech you to honestly assess your own organization for the possibility of these 10 signs.
- You hear about the ‘pains’ in your department from ‘outside’ of your department! Not only does this speak to the pervasiveness of the employee issues, it’s also creating a negative perception company-wide. And, as we all know, perception is reality and the perception is that you are not being an effective leader or one that others want to work with.
- Your ‘high performing employees’ are no longer ‘high performing.’ High performing employees don’t become ‘non-high performing’ without a legitimate reason. Did you increase the work-load, stop investing in them, what happened? Find out and act!
- Your turnover is beyond ‘average.’ Certainly, all organizations strive for a certain level of turnover to keep them fresh and productive. But when your turnover is above a desired level or some of your best employees are a part of the turnover, your employees are sending a clear message of unresolved issues. All leaders need to read this: Money and title are only a stopgap measure if lingering issues go unaddressed. Employees need to feel a high level of satisfaction and happiness, and that their issues are important. Treat them with respect and they will, in turn, treat you and the organization with respect and loyalty.
- Your employees stop providing feedback. Yes, you read that correctly! It’s called ‘employee silent treatment.’ Once your employees stop talking about what’s wrong and needs to be fixed, they’ve essentially given up believability, trust and respect in you as a leader. This sounds harsh, but it’s true. Do what you need to do to legitimize your employee’s ‘pains’ and act on them. Again, I’m not asking you to serve them tirelessly and ‘bend over backwards,’ start by simply validating you are hearing their ‘hurts.’
- Your employees look tired and ‘down and out.’ Physically, your employees look tired all of the time. Worse, they are getting sick all of the time. There is a direct connection between mental health and physical health. Do more than ‘check in’ when you see this. Find out what’s really wrong and address.
- Your employees are only doing the ‘bare minimum’ and no more. Extreme, high productivity comes only from those who are most satisfied in the job. If your employees are giving you only the bare minimum and mentally/physically clocking out at the millisecond the ‘clock strikes five,’ something is up. Find out what it is and work through it.
- There is no accountability and support within the team. If it feels like it is ‘everybody for themselves’ and the team is working in silos, you can be rest assured that the team is hurting. It’s time to gather up the courage necessary to re-build the trust and momentum that is now lost.
- No team member directly communicates with you anymore. Nine times out of ten, team members who avoid communicating with their leaders either no longer believe in them or are intimidated by them. Neither is a ‘good thing.’ Especially, when you need to be challenged once in a while or you need your team to get ‘behind the mission!’ Find out which camp you might fall into, possibly both and seek their feedback to re-right the ship!
- People outside of your team, whom you don’t directly work with, are avoiding you. Obviously at this point the ‘pain’ has spread beyond your ‘team’s borders’ and now carrying a negative ramification throughout the organization. This negative perception can be resolved if two conditions are met: One, find out from the team what is ‘not’ healthy and address. Two, pro-actively build healthy relationships with stakeholders outside of your team.
- The ‘fun’ and energy from the team is gone. Believe it or not, it is VERY possible to have fun and achieve at the same time! Just ask people on high performing teams! It’s on both the leaders and the team members to foster this type of environment! ONLY the happiest employees generate the highest output and are the most loyal! It’s on you, as leaders to help them be happy and yes, even have fun in the workplace!
Address Employee Pain Head-On and Build a Stronger Organization. Or Ignore Employee Pain and Lose your Organization to Competitors and Others.
My message to you . . . Do everything, and I do mean everything within your power and influence, to help your employees who might be legitimately ‘in pain.’ Like you, they aren’t expecting perfection. But, at the very least, they want a work environment that is more inviting than it is repelling. A situation that is more healthy than unhealthy. A leader who is more caring than non-caring.
At the end of the day, we don’t need much to be satisfied and content. Play your part. Do what you can. You’ll be surprised what kind of a difference you can actually make.
I’d Love to hear about your Challenges, really
Privately send me your challenges, questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t guarantee I’ll have all the answers, but I will be candid, truthful and genuine. All of us can inspire, lead and achieve, and drive higher performance and organizational health if we simply work at it.
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