The Top 3 Reasons Your Team is Feeling Frustrated

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  • June 22, 2016
Team is Feeling Frustrated
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Team is Feeling Frustrated

“Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.”

       -Bo Bennett

Have you noticed that your team is feeling frustrated? Frustration can manifest in many ways, but it typically presents as anger in the meeting room, disrespectful body language (like rolling of eyes) and passive or outright aggression in daily communication.

Basically, a frustrated team is the very opposite of an effective team.

Tweet: Basically, a frustrated team is the very opposite of an effective team.

If you notice that your colleagues are demonstrating frustration in the workplace – and statistics show that frustrated employees make up 20% or more of the workforce in a typical company1 – it’s time to take a serious look at how the systems are working. If you’d like some guidance on how to step up in your office and spearhead this endeavor, click HERE for insight into what you have to uniquely offer the team.

There are three basic reasons frustration builds in the office place.

Reason #1: Expectations aren’t Properly Managed

Expectations are everything. If a manager sends out a memo requesting that a certain project be done, she may think she’s communicating clearly, but the receiving party may have a completely different idea about what is expected.

This is a recipe for crossed wires. If the expectation isn’t clarified and cleaned up, over time, this single crossed wire can turn into a terrible mess of frustration and resentment.

Tweet: If expectations aren’t clarified, frustration and resentment will build over time.

According to Roy Lubit, MD, PhD, a forensic psychiatrist based in New York (as quoted in this article on, “Somehow, we are supposed to be experts on dealing with other people and with our own emotions even though these issues were never formally addressed in our education and training.”

I recently wrote an in-depth piece on managing expectations in a cross-cultural and brand new team that examines creating an environment in the workplace that has employees working through these barriers together and with an understanding that we’re not all experts in mind reading!

Reason #2: There are Cultural Differences

Even in an office made up solely of Americans or solely of Japanese there are still cultural differences. We all come from different families, different backgrounds and different understandings of what is and isn’t appropriate in the workplace.

Cross-cultural and leadership training is very important for the success of a team. If we are not trained to seek to understand each other, we can inadvertently offend each other, building mistrust.

Reason #3: There is a Lack of Trust and Openness with Management

Employees become frustrated when miscommunications occur and they don’t feel they are heard or even worst feel there is no room for change. Fostering an environment of trust is a key component to building an effective team, and this can be done in three ways:

  1. Encourage employees to speak with you. If an employee knows that he or she is welcome to approach you with suggestions or worries, tension due to frustration will instantly diffuse.
  2. Listen to your colleagues. Frustration often builds due to the feeling that employees aren’t truly “heard” in the office place. When an employee approaches you, listen.
  3. Be flexible. If an employee needs to leave early on Tuesdays to pick up her children from school, for instance, consider ways you can be flexible and productive such as offering the option of working from home that afternoon. Employees who are heard and understood are happier and more efficient.

Ultimately, employee frustration leads to dissatisfaction, inefficiency and difficulty with retention so it is essential that any signs of frustration are examined and addressed in the workplace.

Not sure how to address the indicators of a frustrated team? It can be tricky. If you’re ready to step up as a leader and make a difference in your team and organization, click HERE to schedule a time to discuss how you can become a more effective leader.


  1. Tom Agnew and Mark Royal. “Workplace Frustration is the Silent Killer According to New Book ‘The Enemy of Engagement.’” Bullish on Books with Gloria McDonough-Taub. 4 November 2011. Web 2 March 2016.
  2. The Muse. “Feeling Frustrated? How to Stand Up for What You Need at Work.” Forbes/Leadership. 15 April 2014. Web 2 March 2016.
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