I’m frustrated, and my frustration ebbs and flows with each article I write. It feels as though my writing has become stagnant and boring, not inventive and thoughtful. I’m pushing myself to overcome my natural inclination to write as I have written in the past and instead try to craft a meaningful piece in which each word contributes to the whole. In an effort to overcome this barrier, I’ve become more open and receptive to learning and growing, and I feel that it’s in the seeds of frustration where learning truly takes root.
I share this personal experience to give you insight. Many employees want to be good at their jobs. When they’re not, they first try to learn and grow, but if they are blocked at this critical stage, they slowly begin to lose the passion to change and become apathetic.
To ensure employees remain eager about and receptive to professional development, organizations must create environments in which frustration is accepted and, most importantly, expressed. I know it sounds unrealistic because, in today’s business world, we are “go, go, go,” and there’s no time for feelings, frustrations or mistakes. But if your organization truly is a learning organization, your employees must be able to communicate without fear of reprisal. Open and honest conversations should happen, where one can say, “I’m frustrated, and I want to know how I can get past that.”
When this conversation occurs, it’s crucial employees voice how they envision change happening. Managers can ask questions such as, “What would help you grow? What sort of activities or training can we develop that will push you further? What do you need from me to facilitate this process?”
One of the learning function’s roles is to provide managers with the tools to conduct this conversation, so the development plan that results from an employee’s frustration is not solely the dictation of the manager, but rather co-created.
If your employees don’t feel comfortable sharing these thoughts, organizations can mine Facebook, MySpace and blogs — which can be known as venting grounds for disgruntled and former employees — for information about how they really feel about their jobs. (For instance, on Facebook, the “I Sold My Soul to Starbucks and All I Got Was This Green Apron” group has 4,103 members.) Then you can start to make concentrated changes. Once employees see the concerted effort to improve, they will see their voices count.
In the end, for me, it is the deep conversations with my editors that give me the tools I need to push through and become better. Now it’s my job to carry it through.