They’re Never Satisfied

Once again, Steve is dismayed by the feedback from his staff.  They get a competitive salary, paid vacations, and sick leave.  All of this, yet they are still dissatisfied with Steve’s management style and the overall atmosphere in the office.  In the words of one team member, “It feels like there’s always a dark cloud over this place, he’s never pleased,  people seldom smile and the pressure to perform wears me out.  I know they pay me, but couldn’t the boss say something nice every now and then?”

Comments like that make Steve want to scream.   He feels that work isn’t social time, it’s work. He just want them to do their job.  If they want friends, they can do that on their time.

With all of this going on I wondered about performance.  Well, the team was performing – well let’s say they were hitting or surpassing all the metrics that had been set so as far as Steve is concerned there’s no problem, other than the fact that they’re never satisfied.

We’ve decided to share a few lessons learned from our work with Steve and his team:

  1. When management views pay as a reward/recognition for doing a good job and staff view pay as the obligatory debt you owe for their work, well, let’s just say morale will be impacted.
  2. There are generational differences regarding the meaning and expectations of work.  I spoke with one gentleman, in his 70’s that said, “Hard work will solve anything.”  I spoke to another in his 20’s that said, “I’m not killing myself for a job like my father did.”
  3. If the manager is not a “people” person, they have to leave but they could benefit by finding a “people” person to be a buffer between them and the people.
  4. Study after study proves that people value recognition in the workplace, yes sometimes even more than pay.  May seem counterintuitive, but I’ve seen this with my own eyes.  And for those frugal leaders out there this doesn’t mean to stop paying people a competitive salary – it means don’t expect money to replace the relationship.
  5. Finally, speaking of relationships, people thrive when there’s a real sense of relationship and community in the workplace.  Work environments that are built on the notion that I’m here to get a check are transactional environments.  Work environments that are built on the notion that we’re here to make a difference are transformational.

The lessons above helped Steve and his team strengthen their communication and clarify their expectations of each other.

By the way, the names have been changed to protect the innocent.  You don’t know Steve, but you’ve probably been around a Steve once or twice in your career.

Let’s continue to learn as we grow.


NOTE: Sharing our lessons learned is neither a promotion or denouncement of them,  they are shared as points of information to drive further conversation.  We’d love to hear your feedback.

What lessons have you learned about satisfied and/or dissatisfied team members?  Please share.

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