Why Are My Staff Unhappy?

By Donnavan Finlay

“Treat Employees Like They Make a Difference and They Will – Jim Goodnight”

In my previous career at a large establishment the topic of staff retention was ever trending. The turnaround in staff was concerning to HR and many questions were raised on how to keep the staff happy so they will stay longer.  After leaving the company and now being in a position where I employ my own staff, I asked myself the same question. “How can I hold on to my staff?” “How can I keep them happy?”

Turns out asking how to keep them happy, is the wrong question.  The annual retreat with your team to some resort is no longer enough. We live in a society of quick turnover and instant gratification. A week after an annual trip, most will be back to the moods they were before the trip.

I met up with one of my old HR managers at a large corporation and he mentioned that all companies are keeping a very close eye on the staff turnaround and what he mentioned was the Glassdoor ratings. He stated that they are working hard on building inclusive and multi-generational teams within the organization.

We all understand that the attitude from the staff towards their work or company has a direct connection to productivity levels. Negative staff will have a negative effect on the results and positive staff will have a positive effect on the final results.

So, in the world we live in today, what can we do to ensure more staff stay with the company, and more importantly, what can we do to keep them positive?

First things that come to mind are money and position.  But can it really just be that simple? Pay the staff more and they will suddenly deliver better results for longer periods of time? Actually, money and position will only have a temporarily positive impact on the staff. This is not what we are looking for. We are looking to be able to sustain positive attitudes and therefore positive results.

The problem we are dealing with is actually very complex. First thing we have to understand is that in many companies we have to deal with multi-generational staff. This is a very good asset but can be tricky to deal with. People at different ages will have different values. Communication between the different age groups may also be challenging.

It is also easy to say that we should just engage the staff more and people will be happier. This is true but the thinking is a bit limiting. We need to look at building the organization that is exciting, fulfilling and fun. Think of companies like Google, from what I have only seen n magazines, has created an incredible workspace for the staff. You need people to get fully committed, not just engaged.

We have to start right at the beginning. We need to look at who is being hired. Are you getting the right people in the right positions? If you place a person in a position that they are not ready or good for, they will just face more and more pressure and eventually just quit. This is not the employee’s fault, but fault of the person that did the placement.  Make sure you get the right people in the right positions with a clear career path and they will be in a better mental state about the job and their career at the organization.

Second suggestion is to make sure you have a good training and development concept in place. It is great to have such a department internally, but there are also many coaches and consultants out there.  Training your staff can only yield positive results. The better they are trained at what they do, the easier the job will be. Simple as that. Training should also go beyond just the job. Why not train people on topics like cultural or age diversity? Training around positive thinking and different personality traits.  Topics that will broaden their minds, expand their thinking and understanding of society.

Another idea is to have staff complete surveys. They are anonymous so the staff will feel free to tell the truth. This is great information and you will be able to read their thoughts. This will put you in a good position to make the changes that are needed.

Celebrate milestones with your staff. Get something in place that will make you aware of birthdays and other celebrations. People spend most of their waking hours at work during the week so it is a good idea to make an effort to make it feel a bit like family. In a large company it can be done within a team environment, no need to get everyone involved.  Celebrating service awards should go without saying. People should be publicly recognized for achievements. Whether it is years of service or top sales person. The importance is around the recognition.

Earlier we discussed having a training and development department or consultant in place. No more so than for your leaders within the organization. All leaders should be well-trained in their position beyond just the job description. Part of the job at hand is to look after the team and make sure it is a well-oiled machine. All leaders should have extensive training in conflict resolution and dealing with different personalities.  The best book I can recommend on this topic is “The Oz Principle”. All leaders should read this book, often.  I attended extensive training sessions around this book for a few weeks at my previous employer. It is extremely empowering and effective when implemented correctly. With well trained leaders in place the rest of the staff will follow the example set by the leaders and function effective to achieve the collective goals of the departments and the organization as a whole.

My one big gripe when I was an employee was meetings that could have been an email or meetings that had nothing to do with me. Meetings are important for everyone to touch base but also to get everyone’s point of view. I always hated meetings as I though to myself, “Why am I here, this has nothing to do with me”. Truth is that my boss wanted everyone’s opinion on the matter. I never realized that, as he never made me feel included. He had no game plan. This is why I suggest doing comprehensive planning around your meetings to make sure they are effective and everyone feels included.  This is a complex topic so I suggest reading a book like “Meetings Suck by Cameron Herold”.

At the end of the day you need to see your staff as part of the product. Even if you are in retail, your staff becomes part of the purchase. If your staff are well-trained and in a positive frame of mind, it will come across to the customer. That is nothing more that value added service. This is something that is lacking in many organizations these days and will put you ahead of the competition.













Leading in the new world.

Leading in the new world.

“Leadership is not a position or title, it is a action and example”

By Donnavan Finlay, Co-Founder of Guyding Principals.

I have been in management and leadership positions for the most part of my life. For the last couple of years I have been dealing with more multinational and millennial teams. A younger crowd opposed to the more mature teams I have had. I realized very quickly that my normal management style was not getting the results I was used to.


We have all dealt with people we tend to call millennial’s these days. I have heard many complaints about poor service delivery and many blame that on the millennial. When you do then complain, you are made out to be the one that needs an attitude adjustment.

Please watch this video on the millennial topic.

This has become a talking point at a recent event I attended. What can we do? I have seen people just walk out of establishments due to the “no care” attitude of the staff. I have done so myself. Then the owners wonder why business is down.


Other business owners find out that they have a service delivery concern. Lucky they picked it up. Then they claim they have run out of ideas on correcting it. When I ask what they did, they state that they have been doing a lot of training but it is not working. Well, of course not. The smallest thing distract people today. Well, that and everyone think they deserve to live a life-like that crazy family on the TV. Not the Osbourne’s. The other one. I think it is the Cardigans or Kardashians. Something like that. People just feel entitled.


Very few people understand that life owes us nothing and we are all responsible for our own successes and failures. Due to silly TV shows people just feel entitled to everything. I have seen parents purchase their kids new iPhones just because they want one. This is the wrong lesson to teach your kids.

I remember at one point while I was still at school I needed some new sports equipment. I asked my dad for it and his response to that was one of the best lessons in life I could have ever learned. He just said, “You are old enough to make your own money, have fun”. This was how I learned that it is up to me to get what I want.


As times have changed, so have effective leadership skills and management tactics. I have been working on adjusting my own skills and I have seen some great results. There is actually a way to lift employee spirits and get the business to function at the level it needs to. This is what I learned.

  1. Drop the suit.

This isn’t the 80’s and you are not Donald Trump. Except if you work in finance. The days where you are all suited up and managing your business from behind your desk on the top floor is gone. Long gone. You will only get more people to dislike you and make assumptions that you are an arrogant manager. Even if you are the kindest person there, people will not be able to see it from a distance.

  1. Know your product.

I have learned from experience that when I do the training my staff tends to listen more and take note. This should not be because they are scared of you. Rather that they respect you and see you part of the team.

You need to know what needs to be done and how to get it done. Whether it is a service delivery company or a retail or product driven enterprise.

  1. Be Present.

As mentioned before you cannot run the business from behind a desk. Understandably there will be times that you have to be office bound. But you need to do your best to be on the floor and around your team members as much as you can. This will build good rapport with your team and give you the perfect opportunity to keep an eye on the final product and ensure it is up to standard.

  1. Know your staff.

Whenever you meet your staff you need to remember their names. Your team will respect you for that. Some may say that they are bad with remembering names. This is no excuse. You need to get that sorted. There are books about that.

  1. Be an Example.

You need to lead from the front. You need to be an example to your co-workers. If you are lazy around the office they will be. If you are driven and focused, your staff will be. Remember you are always on parade as the employer or leader. Once you grasp that fact, you will be aware of what you do and how you lead.

From my experience I have learned a lot about managing people from different ages and nationalities. Try my tips and build your own ways to be effective in the workplace.

We cannot always control what happens to us, but ywe can control how we react to it.

What tips do you have for new leaders out there?