Unhappy employees can't help but reveal their state of mind, say workplace experts. The best bosses can read the signs--and respond with empathy.
BY JOHN BRANDON
Contributing editor, Inc.com
Andrew Wittman, a managing partner at leadership consultancy Mental Toughness Training Center and the author of the book Ground Zero Leadership: CEO of You, agrees that employees want to be caught. He says the difference between the boss who has empathy and understanding about employee frustration and the one who doesn't care is the same difference you will see between a leader and a manager.
"Leaders are tuned into their teams, care about them as people, and will notice employee dissatisfaction, discontent, or burnout long before they start looking for a new job," says Wittman. "Managers are focused on completing tasks and tend to complain about employees, rather than have their radar set to detect engagement and fulfillment."
Picking up on employee frustration can be difficult, however. Sometimes, even the employee doesn't know what's wrong. Wittman says 99 percent of our thoughts and actions happen on autopilot. Think about the way we drive a car--few of us think about which pedal to use for the gas or to brake.
"If we no longer value the job, the human machine cannot help but to think, speak, and act in a way that is congruent with our antithetical attitudes and opinions of disdain," he says. "By default, the human machine wants to tell on itself, and it takes enormous cognitive resources and energy to tamp that instinct down. Eventually, our words and actions will become congruent with our thoughts and feelings."
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