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3 Reasons Your Best Employee Hates Their Job

You're the World's Greatest Boss, right? Here are three signs that there might be trouble brewing right under your nose.

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You're a great boss. You're flexible, fair, and have an awesome open door policy, but your best employees aren't performing as you expected.  

Here's the truth: You might be the problem.

Here are three reasons your top employees may hate their jobs (and what you can do about it).

1. You've got the right guy...in the wrong place. Picture a gifted child who's been shuffled into remedial tutoring; he's not going to sit quitely and do the work--he's going to get bored, distract other students, and ignore problems that he believes are below his skill set. This is more or less what happens when you put a high-performing employee in the wrong role, writes Inc.'s Jeff Haden.

The good news: It's easy to spot a high-performer who is not maximizing his potential. He'll be the guy putting distance between himself and other employees who don't pull their weight, griping about "unfair" awards given to less worthy workers, and freelancing in areas that aren't his responsibility, according to Hayden.

So how do you fix it? "Set high goals for the entire organization and build in both rewards (for success) and consequences (for failure). Apply both consistently and fairly," writes Haden. You can also review and modify the employee's job description, he adds. What do you expect your employee to do? What would he most like to do? What are acceptable ways for your employee to occupy free time at work? Define these and you'll find the happy compromise between what you and your under-utilized employee really need.

2. You're not really listening. It's a fact of business: There are some things your employees just won't tell you. But part of being a good boss is learning to read between the lines. When your employees act out, writes Inc.'s Suzanne Lucas, it could be worth revisiting the classic culprits. Everything from insufficient pay, to toxic culture, a bad client, or micro-management on your part can cause insurrection in the ranks, Lucas explains.

The best way to deal with these complaints: Don't be afraid to ask if there is a nightmare client that no one wants to deal with, or a rotten co-worker that the rest of your team despises, writes Lucas. And once you've solicited ideas or opinions from your team--take them seriously. Carefully consider whether that bad client is worth the trouble, or if one jerk employee is wrecking your productivity.

3. You're the boss, but you aren't acting like it. One final possibility...your employees think you're a jerk. Again, Haden writes: "One employee behaving badly is enough to destroy teamwork, ruin morale, and turn a solid business into a dysfunctional mess...that's especially true when that one employee behaving badly is you."

Even if you're pretty certain that you're a great boss, when you run into problems with your employees it always pays to take a quick glance in the mirror, Haden writes. "The more you prove you care about your people--and that you appreciate extra effort when it's truly needed--the more they care about doing a great job," Hayden concludes.

IMAGE: Flickr/Kumar Appaiah
Last updated: Jul 10, 2013

FRANCESCA FENZI reports on entrepreneurship, technology and small business news from San Francisco. Her work has previously appeared in TIME, USA Today, Pop City and The Northside Chronicle.
@FrancescaFenzi




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