Managing a team of employees can be a complex and challenging task, even for the most talented and experienced managers. But dealing with ungrateful employees can add a whole new dimension to a manager’s role, and something most are not well equipped to do well. Although understanding the root causes of an employee’s bad attitude can be beneficial, there isn’t always an easy answer to their problems. Many leaders would have you believe that simply “developing a culture of gratitude” will solve all of your employee problems, but that’s usually easier said than done.
We have identified five management styles that organizations use to deal with PITA subordinates. These easily recognizable styles of leadership are essential to understand when dealing with ungrateful employees and crucial to suppressing any of their resentment towards management. These management techniques will undoubtedly help you quash any employee dissatisfaction and transform your business into a center for cultural positivity.
So, without further ado, here are 5 management styles we should all be talking about:
The Duct Tape Engineer
The Duct Tape Engineer is a manager who is known for their ability to invoke quick fixes to any problem that arises. In some cases, a knee-jerk reaction may solve the immediate issue, but will overlook the root cause of the problem, however. In fact, a poorly executed fix can end up making the situation worse than before.
For example: Unlimited PTO is a hot-topic in HR these days, but the pros and cons of this benefit structure are a lot more nuanced than they may seem at first glance. The Duct Tape Engineer may rush into offering an unlimited PTO policy without considering the implications from all angles.
While duct tape may be a useful tool for fixing some things, it shouldn’t be relied on as a panacea. It’s important to take a step back and assess the entire situation before hastily slapping on a quick fix.
The Googler is infamous in the corporate world for their reliance on internet research and ChatGPT for all their queries. When faced with ungrateful employees, they will scour the web for solutions or turn to their trusty chatbot for answers. Once they are given a solution, it becomes the holy grail- regardless of whether it’s truly applicable to the situation.
For example, the Googler may come across the idea of offering a commuter benefits package while researching “how to make your ungrateful employees happy.” This offering makes a lot of sense if their organization is located in a city or area with reliable and frequent public transportation. But the program starts to look much less viable if the office is located in a rural area and only 5% of the workforce can consistently utilize commuter benefits.
The Googler will often put in extra effort to avoid meaningful conversations with their employees, and instead turn to the internet for advice that isn’t tailored to their specific circumstances. Clinging to this style of leadership (and method of growth) is likely to exacerbate the root problems in the long run.
Rather than taking proactive measures to address a problem, the Ostrich manager will simply ignore the issue, hopeful that things will eventually become resolved without their intervention. In many cases, this is exactly what will happen when a frustrated employee will simply leave the company. From the Ostrich’s perspective, there is no more problem.
A prime example of the Ostrich management style can be seen in the hiring process. Oftentimes, the managers will use salaries much higher than their current employees to attract new talent to join the team. However, rather than address the pay disparities with current employees, and attempt to make compensation more equitable for everyone, the Ostrich manager will simply ignore the potential controversy and hope employees won’t discuss their compensation with one another.
While this might seem like a cop-out solution, it is one that some managers seem all too willing to embrace. Whether it’s due to apathy, a lack of confidence, or overconfidence, the Ostrich manager’s approach certainly raises some questions about how to be an effective leader.
The Altruist manager is often seen as the beacon of hope in the workplace. Their well-intentioned kindness and policymaking can sometimes feel like a breath of fresh air, especially in a cut-throat workplace culture. Nevertheless, the candy-coated policies Altruist managers implement may not always provide as many benefits as employees initially thought.
As an example, we heard of a situation at a mid-size construction company where every field employee was given a generous raise. The raise, however, was coupled with a new policy: everyone had to buy their own tools. The Altruist manager went around bragging to everyone about their lavish new raises, but benevolently forgot to include the not-so-minor costs they would now incur.
While they may not be intentionally misleading their workers, the manager is making a thinly veiled attempt to mask deeper concerns. While their heart may be in the right place, managers need more than just a sugar coated approach to dealing with problems.
Just about all of us have worked under a Narcissist manager at some point in our careers, and it can be a tremendously demoralizing experience. These so-called leaders possess an unhealthy level of self-importance and believe that the organization’s success is solely dependent on their decisions, actions, and direction. They don’t hesitate to put their interests first, ahead of the mental and physical well-being of their employees. In exceptional cases, they consider an objection or disagreement to their plans an act of treason, and retaliate with an appropriate punishment — which also serves to solidify their authority over others.
In the Narcissist’s mind, the pendulum of power has swung back to favor the organization over the employee — which is the way it should be. Anyone who has the audacity to expect basic respect and dignity in the workplace can simply pack up and leave.
We looked and looked, but couldn’t find a single example of the Narcissist’s management style ever backfiring. #sarcasm
The best tactic for dealing with ungrateful employees
In case it has not become absurdly obvious by now, we are having a little fun with these ridiculous sounding leadership styles. Unfortunately, they’re not made up. Over the years, we’ve encountered each one of these shocking mentalities in action, and have witnessed more than our fair share of appalling treatment of employees.
Unhappy employees will always be a fact of life — and sometimes they need more managing than others. But, we’d go so far as to say that any manager who perceives their employees to be “ungrateful” is already destined to fail.
For a manager, “dealing” with any employee requires patience, listening, honesty, and communication. Trying to control or manipulate them will ultimately crash and burn.
Finding the ideal management style
Ideally, an organization will be proactive in managing its employees‘ needs and expectations so that it never has to experience dealing with ungrateful employees. But if an organization does find itself in this position, it’s important to remember that resolving relationships is almost never a lost cause. It’s almost always easier to repair damaged connections with employees than it is to start over with new ones.
For all you managers out there, it’s always a good time to improve the chemistry with your team. To do so, it’s crucial to take your head out of the sand, close ChatGPT, hide the duct tape, take off the rose-colored glasses, temporarily set aside the ego, and start having some meaningful conversations with your staff.
If that feels like it’s too much to take on, maybe it’s time to bring on an experienced HR professional like Flynn Barrett Consulting. If you see some of those problem managers in your office and need help addressing them, we’re very willing and capable of having those difficult conversations. A third-party HR expert can be invaluable in identifying areas of disconnect and finding concrete and sustainable solutions.
Unhealthy management has a way of running rampant through an organization — and your good employees will find a way to remove themselves from those situations. If you don’t take action to fix those issues now, you will find yourself dealing with more than a few ungrateful employees.
Contact Flynn Barrett Consulting for a free consultation to get the ball rolling before things get worse.