Effective Methods for Managing Detractors in the Workplace

We all know them. Those individuals in the organisation who either deliberately or by chance want to go one way when you want everyone else to go the other.

In the workplace, detractors are those employees who score the least on an Employee net promoter score (eNPS). These employees have low satisfaction and low engagement. They are big critics of the company and can even influence others to feel the same way that they do. It is imperative that companies manage detractors. Here are effective ways how.

Provide communication channels

Listening to all employees is critical when managing detractors in the workplace. Detractors are good at sharing information so give them channels to share it with you. Encourage managers to have one on one sessions with employees and if possible, in person. Problems employees are facing can be unearthed in one of these sessions.

There should also be channels that allow for anonymous feedback. This will allow the more shy employees to share their pains without fear of being penalised.

Analyse their feedback

The first step to managing detractors is to listen to them. The good thing about detractors is that they are willing to share why they are unhappy. However, it is not uncommon to want to turn away from negative feedback. Resist this urge and instead confront and analyse feedback.

The insights you gain from detractors can be very valuable in guiding the organisation. As Bill Gates once said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” Employees are your first customers, so listening to them when they are unhappy is important.

Carry out surveys to learn more

The results of an eNPS are confidential so you will not know who said what. Following up with surveys can reveal deeper sentiments. These surveys can ask direct questions about what employees’ pains are and what solutions they suggest.

Detractors will have an opportunity to share more and this will give management a chance to implement solutions that work.

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Act immediately

Detractors are unhappy and are not afraid to share it with colleagues and even those outside of the organisation. When you discover that you have detractors among your staff, act immediately. As mentioned above, analyse the feedback and get more information as soon as you can.

Once this is done, share the results with the team and let them know something will be done. This is a good way to show all employees, whether they are promoters, detractors or passives that their views are valid and that you act on feedback.

Don’t be lulled into thinking that once detractors leave an organisation their work is done, they may continue to share their discontent even after they leave.

If you were not able to address an employees concerns during their tenure with the company, take some care during exit interviews to gain more information before they leave.

Be realistic

Having discovered what detractors are struggling with, you might be tempted to over promise when it comes to solutions. This can backfire, especially if you under deliver. Take time to analyse the issues raised and come up with solutions that are manageable.

It is possible that some solutions will be implemented over a period of time. In this case, make sure you communicate to employees that change will not happen overnight. Keeping them updated during the process will also play a hand in managing detractors.

Don’t neglect Passives on the eNPS

When managing detractors, you should also pay attention to the passives. These are employees who answer in the neutral range. They are neither for nor are they against the company. While they might be doing their work as required, they do not feel connected to the company. Some of their needs are being met but there are others which are not.

Passives should be attended to because their lukewarm attitude can very easily swing them to the detractor side. Remember, detractors are vocal about their dissatisfaction and can easily lead passives to join them.

Zero in on what their pains are, solve them and bring them closer to being promoters rather than detractors.

Don’t take the promoters for granted

Promoters on the eNPS are your brand ambassadors. They are the ones who are proud to work with the brand and are happy to sing its praises. Just because they are happy, it doesn’t mean that you should neglect them.

One tip for managing detractors is to prevent promoters from turning into them. Identify what makes them happy and work to improve it. Leaving things as they are can signal to promoters that you do not really care about them.

Promoters can also serve another function. Like detractors, they can influence others and help them appreciate the organisation a bit more.

Conduct regular surveys

A key step in managing detractors is to regularly check to see how their sentiments have changed. Once you have listened to them and implemented changes, don’t rest. Conduct surveys to find out if improvements are having the desired effect or if adjustments need to be made.

This attention to detail will show detractors and other employees that engagement is important to the company.

Educate staff about policies

Ignorance is bliss but it can be detrimental in organisations. You might discover that some detractors have negative sentiments because they do not really know about the policies of the organisation.

Take the time to educate staff about all policies during onboarding. In addition, there is no harm in giving existing employees a refresher from time to time.

During this time, you can find out what staff think of the policies and if there is a need to update them to make them more beneficial. You might find that clearing up confusion can help to change the sentiments of some detractors.

In Summary

Detractors can ruin the company image, they lead to bad word of mouth and can negatively affect team morale. These are some of the reasons they should be dealt with as soon as they are identified.

An employee pulse survey is a key way to identify who the detractors in the company are. It should however be followed up with surveys that offer even more information. With consistent action, any company can succeed in managing detractors in the workplace.

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.