What Powerless Feelings Do to Customers & Employees | #Leadership

When I coach leaders and managers on addressing angry customers and upset employees, I remind them to find the powerless feelings. Then they ask me, what do you mean? Well simply put, when people feel powerless they often get angry, upset, and disgruntled. To make things better, understand where and why they feel powerless.

Powerless Feelings: Image is complex drawing that looks trapped.

What Powerless Feelings Do to Customers & Employees. Image by Daniel Friedman via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Image by Daniel Friedman via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Leaders, Find the Powerless Feelings to Make Things Better

Everyone can get angry and upset when they feel powerless. Picture yourself with a flat tire on a dark night in bad weather. Or passed over for a promotion that they said you would get and now they don’t tell you why you didn’t. Would you be happy? Well your customers and employees don’t like to feel powerless either.

    Customers feel powerless and upset when …

  1. Rigid procedures abuse their time. Review your procedures to be customer-focused. Don’t trap customers and abuse their time.
  2. Menu items and processes don’t address their needs. How would you like to be stuck in a phone or digital menu that doesn’t address your needs?
  3. You transfer them to multiple departments. Get organized. Remove silos. Customers don’t care about your organizational structure. They want teamwork and solutions.
  4. You go back on your promises. Yes, it is a lack of integrity and that upsets people. Yet, it also makes them feel powerless and that is maddening.
  5. You don’t trust them. Words matter. When you show customers you don’t trust them, they are not only insulted. They feel powerless and get angry.

    Employees feel powerless when leaders and managers …

  • Are not transparent. They have to reach the business goals. When you withhold information, they don’t have the ability to succeed.
  • Communicate poorly. Clear communication empowers employees. Poor communication handcuffs them.
  • Micro-manage and criticize them. It’s like working for a perfection-driven parent.
  • Don’t engage their ideas. If you want top performance, you must engage and empower employees. Paychecks don’t engage people. You must engage their talents.
  • Let cliques and bullying exist. A workplace of cliques and bullies makes other employees feel very powerless. Learn how to spot cliques and passive-aggressive bullies. Address and eliminate these behaviors.

Summary for Leaders & Managers

If you are frustrated when customers or employees are upset, find their powerless feelings and you find the solution. Powerless feelings give you the road map to empowering them.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Customer Service, Prevent Speedy Blind Handoffs
5 Steps to Stop Team Bullies
Employee Engagement Breakthroughs: Easy Leadership Fixes
Courageously Care for Customers & Employees Every Day

©2020 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

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6 Responses to “What Powerless Feelings Do to Customers & Employees | #Leadership”

  1. Alli Polin says:

    Spot on, Kate! There’s nothing worse when you have an issue and you get handed off or worse, blown off. I contacted my credit card company because I couldn’t add my new card to Apple Pay. First the person was confused. I know HOW to do it, it wasn’t working so her willingness to walk me through it was annoying. Then I was told a specialty team handled it and they’d get back to me ASAP. I needed that card to work! I was frustrated and definitely felt powerless. Randomly, it just worked one day. Would you believe months later I got an email from that special team with directions on how to do it and closing the request? In general, they’re a good company but that customer service experience changed the way I view them long past the heartburn of this problem.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Alli — you paint a very clear and vivid picture of just how frustrated and powerless you felt. And the kicker is that they didn’t get back to you for months? Wow. That would definitely leave a very bad lasting memory.

      I am always grateful when you share your personal stories because they expand everyone’s view and understanding of the challenges.
      Best and thanks,

  2. This is great and really points out the unintentional consequences of improper planning on our customers and the consequences of unengaged employees. Next time I have an employee or guest that is frustrated, I will start looking for the reason they feel powerless and improve the situation from there.

  3. Ross Cohen says:

    Great article. This is a helpful list of things to stop doing. One question: To empower customers and employees is it enough to simply not disempower them? Or, is eliminating what disempowers simply the first step on a journey that then requires active steps to empower?


    • Kate Nasser says:

      The second one Ross. Eliminating obstacles, processes, etc… that disempower them is only step one. Then active steps to empower employees include providing training, resources, collaboration sessions, … and the list goes on. Great question! Thanks for asking.


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