The Disgruntled Employee

The disgruntled employee

A disgruntled employee is a manager’s nightmare. It’s almost impossible to know when and why an employee becomes disenchanted. However, there are signals by which one can be alerted to when an employee is turning disgruntled in the workplace. Here are six unmistakable and important signs to look out for:

1. An employee who talks to colleagues about the organization in a negative tone.

2. It is routinely late for office or office related events.

3. Who does not participate actively or enthusiastically in team discussions?

4. Who is at constant odds with his/her peers.

5.  A task or assignment leads to an expression of tiredness or exasperation by the employee.

6. The employees try to exclude themselves from team activities.

Managers who routinely ignore such telltale signs do so at their own peril. It’s thus important for all managers to quickly drive such employees back into the fold. There is no question of turning a blind eye in the hope that this problem will just fade away. At the end of the day, managers must have an ear to the ground, be able to sense such behavior and nip it in the bud. Allowing it to fester can have a colossal effect on the overall health of an organization.

There are organizations that allow such uncontrolled descent and the malady they suffer is acute employee attrition syndrome, AEAS. HR departments have unsuccessfully wrestled with such situations and for lack of results have been left frustrated. Therefore it is the responsibility of senior managers to assist line managers with tools that will help show up the performers and challenge those who hold back on progress.

It is important to first understand that reasons for negative behavior can be varied and may or may not be related to the company at all; it could be a human relations issue or even a personal crisis that the employee is focusing his/her energies on. Whatever the cause, most of them can be resolved using the right tools that must be made available by the organization to all managers.

The starting point has to be knowing what is wrong or whom the negative disrupter is, therefore at the outset of this article I have provided the time tested six-pointer.

With the advent of Millennials in the workspace, a more independent an open working environment is the need of the hour. Organizations have started to provide more elbow room for employees to function. In these circumstances it is actually far more difficult for managers to ‘confront’ the disgruntled, without making the encounter public; a scenario the manager must avoid at all costs. Keep it professional yet private and personable. Confrontation adds fuel to fire and creates a volatile situation.

In the eighties and nineties, a manger could take an employee into his/her cabin and let loose but start by saying: “Don’t take it personally, it’s professional”. While you still have a few remnants of this bygone era, most managers today must know that every discussion will be taken personally. So even before it reaches a stage where a manager has to conduct that one on one, the right environment needs to be created so as to leave this as the last option for managing disgruntled employees.

A motivated and competent manager can turn a disgruntled employee into a star performer with the right tools. Why is it important to do this? Because a disgruntled employee is perhaps the most powerful force who can damage your business irreversibly even long after they have left the organization. On the flip side, a manager with no access to good tools can destroy a good employee, chase out the performers and demoralize those that remain.

The purpose of the article is not to tutor the manager or lecture the organization but to declare unequivocally that organizations must find a dynamic toolset that will assist in creating the perception of a flat organization.  This allows every employee to feel he/she has an opportunity to be “seen” in the broader scheme of things. In essence, it may not actually be a flat organization but simply provide for a platform for all deserving, hardworking and loyal employees to be seen for what they contribute to the organization at large. So that they are acknowledged and at the least receive instant gratification.

Sadly even a productive employee can turn rogue and indulge in a bit of callous banter, suddenly becoming a complainer, a trouble maker or even uncooperative. That is how contagious a disgruntled employee attitude can become. The HR cannot be held responsible for this ailment if line managers are not empowered with tools to squash such possibilities in their nascent stage. HR does have the option of cutting the employee loose, but that would defeat the purpose of creating a conducive environment.

Before they take that drastic step there is also the possibility of that on one, how much it will help is anyone’s guess as it eventually depends on the communications skill of the manager in play. Managers with poor management skills end up either micromanaging or providing no feedback to the employee on performances. Therefore a toolset that allows for 360-degree visibility is the need of the hour. Some attrition is normal as people do leave and move on to better opportunities. But without question employee attrition is an expensive proposition for any organization.


top 8 reasons why people leave an organisation

So it’s good to be aware of the top 8 reasons why people leave an organization:


1. Lack of recognition

The most important reason for good people quitting jobs. And the reason the employee provides? “Better opportunities”. It’s not just money, but straight forward recognition for good contribution, whether it’s an idea or action. It isn’t just a noble act but it clearly reinforces the notion that the organization notices and appreciates good work and intent. Lack of recognition leads an employee to believe he/she is undervalued.

2. Lack of freedom in decision-making

When an employee feels micromanaged it lead him/her to feel that the organization/manager does not trust his/her decision-making abilities.

3. Personal growth opportunities

Employees in the 21st century are clear about the fact that they must see growth.

4. Job expectations

The actual job description was misleading to the employee. This leads the employee to believe there are more untruths to come culminating in a massive trust deficit.

5. Managers’ arrogance or lack of people skills

Rude or arrogant, such a manager never provides adequate feedback to employees and instead is rough with their communication leaving little room for the employee to express himself/herself.

6. Work-Life balance

This is especially true for Millennials. They work hard but want to party as hard.

7. Growth via monetary gains

While money isn’t the only or main reason for employees moving jobs, it is nevertheless an important issue.

8. The stability of the organization

This is an important aspect of the consideration of every employee. It is, therefore, all the more reason to keep a close tab on loose talk.


Employee recognition has a close link to the complexities of employee retention. This, in turn, is the only way to bring back from the brink a disgruntled employee and stop the infection reaching other employees at large.



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