Constructive Dissatisfaction

Thursday, June 8 2023

Satisfaction is an emotional response to the conditions of our life because we desire challenging work, achievement, responsibility and personal growth. When we see opportunity to be better, constructive dissatisfaction motivates people to do even more. When people achieve greater success and receive recognition, they find the satisfaction they seek, setting the stage for new constructive dissatisfaction.

To nurture constructive dissatisfaction in your organization:

Ensure hygiene factors are satisfied

Frederick Herzberg suggested that hygiene factors of security, salary, benefits and working conditions can be a source of dissatisfaction. Failure to ensure the basics are met leaves individuals to focus on basic lifestyle maintenance, resulting in little room for pleasurable and fulfilling activities. Failure to achieve basic levels leads to plummeting satisfaction, and then people either give up or become obsessed with eliminating the dissatisfaction. Success leads only to relief, not satisfaction.

With hygiene factors satisfied, people are open to positive dissatisfaction, the desire to achieve even more than their current success.

Build team constructive dissatisfaction

Bring teams together to share their collective contribution to society through the organization’s mission, then ask them to project forward from current successes to a vision of even greater contributions using more of their collective potential. This creates dissatisfaction with the status quo, so lead them to craft specific goals showing the results they’ll achieve.

For each goal, identify a champion to build a success plan, enlist others, execute and report. Ensure the plan explains the benefits to the organization and individuals. This clear difference, between what is and what can be, will create constructive dissatisfaction.

Protect autonomy

Give champions ownership of their work, and freedom to make decisions because this will create an initial level of satisfaction.

Recognize and celebrate

Ensure every plan has milestones of achievements toward the ultimate goal.  Ask people to report them on a regular basis. Ensure leaders recognize progress in a clear, timely, sincere way.

Publicly share and celebrate when the ultimate goal is met. Recognition from other people is powerful. Reflect upon the strengths and learnings that added to the achievement. Show how individuals and the team can do even more, creating new constructive dissatisfaction.

This cycle of constructive dissatisfaction, powerful satisfaction and desire to do more can create even more success for individuals, teams and your organization.

Want to know how your team feels? CORE surveys provide an opportunity to provide employers meaningful feedback in a confidential and constructive manner. Or, if you want to do a free Executive CORE designed for the business leader to see how their perceptions measure against other business leaders, contact us and specify Executive CORE in the request form.