As a Leader, Do you Know When You Have Unhappy Employees?

I’ve see it over and over again – someone coming for help to deal with the job they say they hate. It didn’t seem to be what they expected, or thought, and they don’t know how to deal with this sad fact.

Often, these individuals are having mood issues, i.e. feeling sad, anxious, angry, frustrated, and depleted in their outlook. Their business behavior starts to lack – showing up late, taking longer breaks, not meeting their numbers, and the like. Essentially, these individuals are falling in the high number of those disengaged, which still hovers around 67% (Gallop, 2018).


My question to leaders: are you aware that you have unhappy, or even miserable, employees? Are you paying attention to the signs and symptoms of failing work? Are you having conversations with your workers to assess their needs and engaged levels?

If you can’t answer a resounding “YES” to these questions, then you are failing as a leader. You are not paying attention to what is going on nor are you having those conversations needed to get to really know your people, and their needs, to determine how you will meet them. You are also not using opportunities to provide feedback, both positive and negative, that will improve their performance.

Someone that comes in late, takes excessive breaks, or has frequent absences is not just being ‘lazy’ – there is always a reason for behavior. Learning about these reasons is what will deter problem behavior and lead to more engagement.

Providing the motivation that will lead to better behavior is the start; this means having those meaningful conversations to learn how your employees work, what drives them, their goals and, especially, their expectations. This will enable you to put focus on each employee and see how they are performing and finding ways to meet their needs and expectations so they are happy to show up and meet their work goals.

Begin today to observe your employee’s behaviors, such as their attitude, their interactions with their peers, and how they approach their work. Start to meet individually with them and build relationships with them, learning more about them and then providing feedback on how you think they are doing and how they are contributing to the team. Have an open-door policy that allows them access to you.

These are what employees desire with their boss. When they feel cared about, are empowered, or given autonomy, they will work harder. Now, there will be employees who you won’t be able to meet their needs but that is on them, as they did not do the work needed prior to taking the job to ensure there would be a good ‘fit’ and their expectations weren’t met (it’s important to meet with your HR/recruiters to ensure they are presenting the job honestly and appropriately to avoid this from occurring).

I say that leaders should be ‘taking the pulse’ on what is going on in their department/organization on a daily basis – it’s the only way you will know how work is being done, when it is being done, and the level of job satisfaction that ensures the work is done and happily. If any of your answers to the questions above was “NO” then it’s not too late to turn things around. Your job and your company’s viability relies on it.

Here is an article on my other blog that you may enjoy:

I help to create leaders from the inside out; helping small business owners to CEOs find the clarity and confidence to lead their organizations to profitability. If you’re ready to rev up your leadership skills to be more effective in your role, contact us today – we’re ready and here to help you get there!




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