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Oct 20 2015

Signs Your Direct Reports Aren’t Happy


I once heard the leader of a 100-person department explain how good employees “turn toxic.”

“They can be the most valuable, hard-working person in the office,” she said. “But if they start to become unhappy, and management doesn’t see that and step in, they can become destructive.”

To stop that from happening to your own direct reports, see what subtle ways they’re demonstrating their discontent.


  1. Decreased Responsiveness

Maybe your employee used to answer your emails within the day, but now, you’re lucky if you hear back from her within four days. Or when he got your feedback on a project, he’d promptly make adjustments—these days, you’re not sure how many of your comments he’s actually listening to.

If the quality of the communication between you and your team members declines, it probably means something is wrong.

How to Fix It: Ask your employee if there’s a change you can make to improve the process, whether that’s sending emails earlier in the day, changing up the review process, etc.


  1. Disregard for Policy

Unhappy employees will often show their dissatisfaction by neglecting company policies or events. Let’s say you have a team-wide pizza party every Friday. If someone’s attendance mysteriously drops, it could be because he no longer feels good in the work-place. Another example: You ask everyone to be respectful of the communal eating areas, but one team member has started to leave trash in the cafeteria, to repeated complaints.

Not caring about company rules is a common sign that someone doesn’t think he or she will be the company long-term.

 How to Fix It: First, address the surface issue. Then, ask your direct report what you could do to improve their work experience.


  1. Internal Conflict

It can be hard to tell whether disagreements among your team members are the cause or effect of a drop in morale. Whatever the cause, if employee conflicts become serious enough that you, as the boss, are hearing about them, it’s important to step in and manage the situation. (Note: Some conflict is inevitable. Part of being a good supervisor is deciding which cases need attention and which will be worked out on their own.)

 How to fix it: Figure out the root of the conflicts. Are your employees clashing over their principles? Is it about the office power dynamic? Does everyone have enough resources to do his or her job properly? The answers might not be immediately clear, so you may have to conduct some one-on-ones with your employees.


There are two common themes throughout these solutions: proactive behavior and communication. When you notice someone who works for you no longer seems happy, don’t wait for things to get worse, and don’t be afraid to go to that employee and talk about what’s going on.


About Signature Consultants, LLC

Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Signature Consultants was established in 1997 with a singular focus: to provide clients and consultants with superior staffing solutions. For the ninth consecutive year, Signature was voted as one of the “Best Staffing Firms to Work For” and is named the 15th Largest IT Staffing Firm in the United States (source: Staffing Industry Analysts). With 29 locations throughout North America, Signature annually deploys thousands of consultants to support, run, and manage their clients’ technology needs. Signature offers IT staffing, consulting, managed solutions, and direct placement services. For more information on the company, please visit https://www.sigconsult.com. Signature Consultants is the parent company to Hunter Hollis and Madison Gunn.

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