When Motivation Goes Wrong – Recognising Frustration

Frustration is the negative response to the blocking of a goal and results in a defensive form of behaviour. There are many different responses to what was an attempt to motivate an individual along a specific path towards that goal and the reaction seen depends upon that particular individual.

Frustration falls under four basic types but it is highly likely that they will overlap and can be combined in many different ways.

  1. Aggression: physical or verbal attack on a person or object. Where that process cannot be directed at the specific cause for the frustration there will be displaced aggression at someone or something else.
  2. Regression: reverting to a childish state of mind to show the frustration being felt. This can include sulking, crying, tantrums or striking out at a physical object.
  3. Fixation: repeating actions that have no positive outcomes. This can include the inability to accept change that has been imposed or the introduction of new ideas and processes.
  4. Withdrawal: apathy, giving up or resignation. This is likely to include late arrival at work, leaving early, higher levels than normal of absenteeism and sickness leave. Really disruptive withdrawal features refusing to accept responsibility, avoiding any decision-making and passing jobs to others without the authority to do so. The ultimate expression of withdrawal would be to leave the organisation.

Frustration adds costs and disruption and never adds any value – its impact can be felt for a very long time and is hard to work around.

Its root cause often lies in a failure to set an appropriate goal or target in the first place and careful setting of the desired goal and frequent and systematic monitoring of progress towards the goal will drastically reduce the likelihood of Frustration emerging.

As ever, good preparation reduces the risk of a poor and unsatisfactory outcome.

Good Luck!

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