Make Workplace Frustration Work for You

27 Jun, 2012 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager's Toolbox: Avoidable project snafus can leave you steaming — or provide the motivation to change things for the better.

If you’re like most CAD managers I know, you’ve experienced days where everything seems to go wrong: standards are violated, files go missing, clients hit you with unexpected deadlines, etc. And, like any normal human being, you eventually become frustrated and exhausted from dealing with those problems.

What if I told you that channeling your frustration in the right way could actually help you solve problems — would you be interested? Give me a chance to convince you by sharing a four-step frustration strategy that I find useful.

Isolate. When a frustrating problem arises, isolate the underlying source of the problem. If a standard was violated, why did it happen? If an unexpected deadline was dumped on you, why didn’t you know about it earlier? In the isolation step, you have to continue asking “why” until you finally arrive at the root cause of the frustration.

Communicate. Now that you know what actually caused the frustrating problem, you need to communicate your findings to the involved parties while the issue is fresh in everyone’s mind. The tough part here is staying in control rather than letting your temper boil over. Do say, “Our onsite team didn’t know they would need us to create a set of 2D PDFs for client review until they arrived at the site. How can we change our processes so this doesn't happen next time?” Don’t say, “Because some idiot here at our office screwed up, we didn’t have 2D PDFs ready.” The first statement invites action to fix the problem; the second merely makes people defensive and angry.

Personalize. Now that the magnitude of the error has been determined, feel free to cite personal statistics of wasted time to drive home how disruptive the entire frustrating experience was. Again, don’t rage out of control, but focus on how wasteful and inconsiderate the infraction was. Hopefully the offending parties will now feel a sense of personal — and financial — guilt.

Standardize. Hopefully your communication with others uncovered ways that problems can be handled. Strike while the iron is hot: Put procedures in place now so the problem won’t come up again. This should be the easy part, because you’ve done such a good job of isolating and communicating the problem!

While I can’t give you a magic recipe for permanently preventing frustration, I can tell you that the process outlined above is the best way to get your coworkers on board with fixing problems. So rather than screaming, punching the wall, or saying things you’ll regret, use the frustration you experience as a way to change behavior so that the frustration won’t recur. Try it and let me know if it works for you.

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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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Re: Make Workplace Frustration Work for You
by: Sharp Pencil
June 27, 2012 - 3:35pm
I used to think that Scott Adams (Dilbert cartoonist) worked here. I'm beginning to think YOU recently started working here too! I checked the on-line company phone book... you're not. Thanks for your insightful articles!
Re: Make Workplace Frustration Work for You
by: Misteracad
August 2, 2012 - 4:09pm
As always Robert, GOOD STUFF! Now if I could only remember your words of wisdom when I need too most!
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