Don't panic, you're not failing.
When your employee calls a meeting to tell you they're bored, your first reaction may be to roll your eyes. It's natural to feel shocked, annoyed, and frustrated. You may even start feeling anxious that they could quit if you don't do something about it. And fast.
It's hard not to take these kinds of meetings personally. How can they be bored when everyone around them seems to be wishing there were more hours in the day, yourself included?
Before you start pointing blame at Millennial entitlement, step back and reflect on the big picture. It may not seem like it, but these kinds of situations could be signs you're actually doing a good job.
So before you start to second guess your abilities, here are three unlikely circumstances that mean your leadership abilities are on point:
1. They want a new role.
When I was starting out leading a team and someone told me they were no longer engaged with their role, my first reaction was panic. I was either terrified that I wasn't providing enough challenging work, or irritated that it was now on my shoulders to make their role more entertaining.
However, once I took some time to reflect on the situation, I realized that I had to be doing something right. Why? Because of loyalty. Instead of shopping around for other jobs, this employee was giving me the opportunity to help them grow and develop within my company.
Boredom can be fixed; passion cannot. If your staff want more responsibility, give it to them. If they want to be challenged, assign them projects outside of their comfort zone. Set new targets, or offer to upgrade their skills through part-time courses. If they've shown promise that it's worth the investment, do it.
2. They ask for a raise.
As leaders, these types of meetings can make you groan. There are two ways this can go: either you give them more money, or you say no. One will leave them happy, the other could make them walk.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret: Salary isn't the only thing that makes employees want to work for you. If you're providing a positive culture, offering challenging work, and giving them freedom to do their job, then you can bet these are far more important qualities than dollars and cents.
Do you remember how nerve racking it was to ask for a raise? I sure do. When I was in my early 20's and just starting out, I remember rehearsing what I was going to say for days beforehand, consulting colleagues and friends on what to say and how to say it.
So the fact that this employee felt comfortable enough to sit down with you and ask for more money isn't a sign that you're cheap or doing something wrong. It means they trust you, and want to stick around.
3. They hang outside of the office -- without you.
You may have dreamed of being 'the cool boss' that employees love to be around, but as soon as you put that leadership hat on, you're automatically an outsider. And that's a good place to be.
If you're not invited to Friday happy hour or 3 P.M. coffee breaks, it doesn't mean that no one likes you. It's a sign that you have staff that genuinely like each other, and you've hired wisely.
Having a workforce that gets along even outside of the office is what every company strives to do. When it comes to non-work related events, it's always good to have a level of separation between you and the staff. You'll find it easier to do your job when they view you as a leader, rather than a friend.