Does your team repeatedly fail to hit targets? Perhaps certain members are continually late? Maybe the slightest little thing can trigger an outburst of rage inside you?
When managing a team and keeping lots of plates spinning, it’s inevitable that events seemingly beyond your control will create a groundswell of frustration from time to time. Indeed, statistics show that 45% of workers regularly lost their temper at work, with 65% who work in an office experiencing office rage at some point.
Frustration is part of life - especially when you have high expectations of your team members - but when it percolates and boils over, then it does no one any favours, least of all you as a leader.
Let’s unpack what frustration is, how its consequences can impact the workplace, and explore empowering ways you can stop being frustrated with your team.
What is frustration?
Frustration is an emotional response that arises when something that needs to be achieved or changed, cannot be. In this instance, it relates to when (in your opinion) your team is hindering progress for one reason or another.
Anger, annoyance and disappointment are all emotions that fall under the umbrella of frustration.
There are two types of frustration, stemming from separate sources:
Internal frustration – This stems from you; your own disappointment or anger that you cannot personally reach your own goals or desires. Only you can address and challenge your internal frustration.
External frustration – This stems from outside roadblocks beyond your control that prevent you from getting in the way of where you want to be.
When frustration is allowed to build up over time it can manifest in negative ways. For instance, you may become stressed, lose your confidence and give up on your goals.
The consequences of unchecked frustration in the workplace
When frustration goes unchecked at work, it can steadily boil over into anger, leading to undesirable and unprofessional outcomes like:
Verbally or physically aggressive behaviour
Poor work performance
Equally frustrated employees or team members
An overall unhappy working culture and environment for all
Searching for a solution to soothe your work frustration? Here are five ways to help you stop being frustrated with your team
1 Establish the root causes of your frustration
If your frustration has built up to a level where a team member returning from lunch a couple of minutes late sets you off into fits of rage, it’s likely it’s no longer even clear where it even stems from.
Sit down, take some deep breaths and work out what the root causes of your frustrations are. Is it your team as a whole? If so, consider why. Have they become sloppy and prone to group-think? Maybe they are not communicating efficiently enough? Perhaps they’re not engaged and lack motivation?
Or could it be isolated members of your team that are dragging the rest down? Maybe they’re lazy, don’t care or lack the skills they need to complete the required tasks?
Only when you have truly identified what the issues holding team performance back are, can you make actionable steps to help you and your team move forward and foster growth.
2 Surrender what you cannot control…
If you’re prone to micromanaging, this can be an endless source of frustration when you’re unable to control and steer every single aspect of your operation.
As we have established, external frustrations caused by your team as a whole or team members can play a large factor. With your guidance and leadership, some of these can be changed, but many can’t. These are what you have to release.
You cannot control things like the markets, your company as an entity or things that happened in the past. Don’t try and dwell on what the CEO said in a meeting and remember that you cannot influence your team members’ feelings or reactions.
Instead, why not try focusing on the positives and working out what your fears are so you can allay them? Cultivate a problem-solving mindset that helps you and your team move forward instead of being caught up on immutable, self-defeating things that trigger your frustration.
3 …and take ownership of what you can
While we’ve established many of your frustrations are external and beyond your control, many of them could be internal, and ones you can overcome with a bit of self-reflection.
In terms of your team’s own personal frustrations, 74% of workers say they stem from having an ineffective manager. So, the secret is to look inwards as well as outwards. On the surface, it may seem like it’s all the team’s fault, but it may be helpful to look at where you, as a team leader, could be going wrong too.
Are you screening and hiring the right people for the job in the first place? Are you delegating tasks correctly to play to everyone’s strengths? Are you co-ordinating appropriate training to set them up for success?
Make your responsibilities count. Hire right and smart. Set clear expectations of your team and call-out unacceptable behaviour in real time rather than before it spirals. Continually train, mentor and coach your team members so you always bring out their best performance.
Think also about how your work-life balance is affecting your frustrations, too. If you’re burnt out or rarely get a moment to yourself or family, this will inevitably shorten your fuse when it comes to coping with your team.
4 Anticipate the triggers and structure your day to prevent frustration arising
When your frustration is bubbling away under the surface, it may peak and explode when you least expect it. Before you fire out that angry email or haul a team member in for a meeting, take time to sit down and work out what times of day you become more triggered.
Listen to your body’s warning signs, too. Your heart might beat faster, or your mind might swirl with angry racing thoughts.
Are you most wound up in the morning? Make sure you get a good’s night sleep and perhaps leave earlier to prevent getting stuck in traffic. It could be that extra espresso gives you the jitters, so maybe switch to a caffeine-free drink?
Do you feel ready to walk out by lunchtime? Then try actually taking your lunch hour to sit somewhere quiet and restful to gather your thoughts before returning to work. Some fresh air in the park could refresh you mentally and help you manage your team better in the second half of the day.
When you become aware of moments and situations that trigger your frustration, you’ll minimise the risks of conflict with your team members, allowing you to have more positive interactions and deal with rising frustrations with purpose and clarity.
5 Help yourself manage your reactions to workplace events
As a leader, it’s your job to stay cool, calm and collected while riding out any problems with meaningful actions. This means looking after number one. Put your wellbeing in the spotlight and consider activities and practices that engender a more focused mental and physical state.
It’s no surprise the popularity of meditation and mindfulness has exploded. In 2018, a CompareCamp study showed 52% of employers offered workplace meditation programs, with employee productivity increasing by 120%.
With elevated cortisol levels, ongoing frustration wreaks havoc on your mind and body. Starting a meditation practice will help reduce your body’s response to your anger or frustration when incidents in the workplace occur. If it works for you, why not get your whole team on board by setting up a work meditation initiative?
You could also try being mindful of when you feel your stress and frustration levels rising. By being mindful you consciously acknowledge the processes and emotions your body is experiencing, allowing them to rise and pass, rather than instinctively reacting from them.
Sit down and write a list of exactly what are the root causes of your frustrations with your team.
Release the external frustrations that are beyond your control, and channel that energy into creating a positive mindset.
Take ownership of what you can control, while looking at what actions you can take to relieve frustrations.
Listen to your body’s warning signs that you’re becoming triggered and map when this happens to help you structure your day better.
Put your wellbeing in the spotlight with activities like meditation and mindfulness that can help you react better to your frustrations.
If you are open to new opportunities, contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.