27 September 2023

Conquering work frustrations

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John Eades* has advice for people facing nagging inconveniences at work that could develop into resignation-inducing frustrations.

We have all been there at one point or another — and there is probably something right now that is frustrating you.

It may not cause you to be joining the Great Resignation Club — yet — but it is still a consistent struggle with someone or something at work.

Maybe it’s a team member who isn’t giving their best effort; perhaps it’s your boss who micro-manages every move.

Whatever the case, it started as a minor inconvenience, and now it nags at you daily.

Early research by LearnLoft indicates that the ability to handle adversity is one of the most overlooked traits of successful leaders.

Frustration is defined as the feeling of being upset or annoyed.

There are two states of frustration that professionals can find themselves in: The Consistent State and the Momentary State.

When someone is in a consistent state of frustration, they get negative and pessimistic, which never allows them to live up to their potential.

Momentary frustration happens to all of us, but it isn’t always a bad thing since it can be a helpful indicator of problems.

However, when that momentary frustration turns to anger, depression, elevated levels of stress and resentment, it becomes destructive.

Now that we know frustration is a feeling that can be destructive, it’s essential to recognise some common sources of frustration in the workplace.

Communication issues

When two or more people don’t have consistent communication that is clear, concise, and conclusive, it’s a recipe for frustration for one or both parties.

Lack of meaningful change

When things stay the same, or there isn’t a viable path to improvement, it causes people to get annoyed or even upset.

If employees start to say: “It’s always going to be this way, nothing is going to change here,” it’s a bad spot to be.

Limited opportunities for career advancement

When team members feel there is nowhere to go beyond their current role, it causes frustration.

This is particularly challenging in organisations with less than 100 employees.

Process or technology problems

Inefficient and manual processes that can be automated or improved are the baine of many professionals’ existence.

If you want to stop being frustrated, you aren’t going to hope your way there.

You have to start acting differently. The idea of hoping things change is a terrible strategy.

A solid and consistent strategy, followed by action, is the best way to overcome frustration.

Anyone can adopt new methods and then develop their skills to help them be successful at it.

Now that you’re aware that action is the key, here are some things you can do about frustration.

Add the truth

When you notice a team member is showing signs of frustration, don’t hope it goes away. It’s time to add the truth to conversations.

While it might seem like an obvious strategy, the majority of people would rather avoid the truth for fear of what they might hear or what might happen.

As a mentor wisely told me: “Our ability to sense truth is amazing, and the truth needs no crutches.”

The best leaders embrace talking about the truth because they know the best path to remove frustrations is to add the truth.

There are a few ways to get to the truth: First, ask yourself or team members to communicate the source of their frustration.

Second, listen or seek to understand what might be causing it.

Acknowledge the root cause and develop solutions

Rarely will our first pass at communicating the root cause of our frustration come out clearly.

It’s worth the mental bandwidth to get to the source by asking that hard question of ‘why’.

Perseverance over perfection

Knowing we are human and emotions are part of what makes us great, it’s impossible to remove frustration altogether.

So what’s required is to persevere instead of expecting perfection.

One of my favourite strategies for this is a simple, practical resolution to say to yourself. It goes like this:

“I will not be frustrated anymore by things others do or do not do, but rather I will take ownership over things in my control and be proactive in finding ways to reconcile them.”

A simple affirmation like this gives you the power to overcome frustration versus blaming others.

Frustration and adversity are guarantees in life. Your ability to overcome them and create the best outcomes for all those involved is crucial in determining your success.

Take an honest look at the things that are frustrating you right now.

Are you doing all you can by adding the truth, getting to the root cause, and persevering without expecting perfection?

If the answer isn’t what you want it to be, now is the time to act before the frustration gets to a point where you join the Great Resignation Club.

*John Eades is the Chief Executive of LearnLoft a leadership development company. He can be contacted at johneades.com.

This article first appeared at johneades.com.

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