Home Management The Unseen Bane of the Workplace – Resentment

The Unseen Bane of the Workplace – Resentment

by Brian Ray

At first mention, many people immediately assume that resentment in the workplace has to do with the emotions some individuals experience over certain people getting promotions or raises instead of  themselves.  In some cases this does apply, however there is also a much more insidious way in which the emotion of resentment enters the playing field, particularly for those in leadership positions.  It sits patiently in the back of a Manager’s mind, just waiting for the right time to slowly seep into the fabric of their thoughts, subtly creeping along until it is firmly cemented within the psyche.  Once present, it affects workplace interaction in some very sinister ways.

One of the major scenarios has to do with a Manager who is unable, or not allowed to reward the excellent employees within their organization(s) for their contributions.  This causes them to constantly think to themselves – “I wish I could give something to, or do more for ­­­­___________”.  Then of course, every time an employee provides exceptional results, the pattern is repeated.

This constant wishing then builds up over time, causing the Manager to feel, you guessed it – resentment toward that particular employee.  Once it is strong enough, this feeling then has a ripple effect which can cause other issues like these:

  1. A Manager may experience resentment because their inability to provide rewards for good work makes them subconsciously feel inadequate as a leader.  So, exceptional work then becomes silently viewed with disdain in many cases, or goes unacknowledged entirely as it is a constant reminder of the situation to the Manager in question.  It may seem like a paradox, but it is true.
  2. Once the feelings of inadequacy take hold, it can spread, causing other issues.  Just as one example, it can cause the Manager to view the employee with some form of paranoia, like the old adage that the employee is after the Manager’s job.   This is absolutely not true in the majority of cases, but in the Manager’s mind, it can be a very real possibility.

As you can imagine, this can spiral out of control very quickly.  So it is best to take preventive measures and avoid the problems altogether.  To that end, fortunately there are some very effective ways to deal with this issue and ensure that resentment does not effect a Manager’s organization, or their thought processes.

As stated previously, consider that the primary cause for the lack of tangible rewards is usually due to the Manager in question having a sparse number of options available, or they simply may have been told by their superiors that no rewards can be given at all.  So in lieu of those, consider these alternatives:

  • A written thank-you or congratulatory email/memo.

Yes it’s true, even with all the other communication technology available today, the simple basics like a thank you note/memo can still mean the world to someone.  Just be sure to be sincere without overdoing it.  If possible, also include some of the recipient’s peers on the distribution, or make it a full departmental message and spread the goodwill.

  • Gratitude in person.

This can take a few different forms.  For example, thanking and congratulating the employee for their work and contributions during a staff meeting, or another type of departmental gathering.  This will demonstrate to everyone present that what they do matters, which can help team cohesion,  understanding, and confidence, along with many other attributes.

Now, as it always does ,there will come a time where rewards can be given again.  When that time does arrive, make certain that those who are truly deserving ultimately receive those accolades.  To ensure that nothing is forgotten, keep a simple log of your employees’ accomplishments and contributions.  It doesn’t have to include every little thing or detail, but it should contain major successes and milestones.

Alternatively, some companies ask their employees to document their accomplishments as well.   This information from the employee’s perspective can be extremely useful for a Manager to compare their own notes with, so don’t be shy about asking for input.  Such documentation will also help immensely for future considerations as well.

Ultimately, no matter what method is used for determination, just remember that rewarding people for their contributions can be one of the most fulfilling activities a Manager can perform, and those are the moments that matter most.

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