As a manager you have to be attuned to the emotional ups and downs of staff. At least the good managers are. Recently, I noted to another manager colleague that I believed certain people were unhappy and would quit. That manager as not quite on the same page as I was and was actually surprised when two months later a slew of resignations occurred. It was one of those non-rare moments where I got to say “yup, I told you so.” To me it had been fairly obvious. The signs were all there but some individuals like to walk around with blinders on. Even more so, they like to walk around with self-enhancing mirrors that overlay the blinders.
- The David Caruso employee. Remember when David Caruso was on NYPD Blue and he was awesome in it and brought some grit to his role? Remember when he quit after just a year so that he could go make movies and then his career fizzled? Yup. That is not just in Hollywood. There are many David Curusos out in the workforce. These are the type of employees that are happy, super happy, with themselves. They feel and relish the warm spotlight and feel they can do even better. They also exhibit a bit of anger at the current workplace for feeling that they have outgrown it and there must be better. They are an odd mix of emotions that very much bleed out in snarky comments.
- Katherine Heigel employee. The Heigel employee is very similar to the Caruso employee in that both feel they have outgrown their current situation. Both feel they are better than their current situation. However, the Heigel employee is really angry and outwardly displays signs of being ungrateful. Remember how Ms. Heigel lashed out at the Grey’s Anatomy writers for not doing a great job and thus she did not really deserve to be nominated for an emmy.
- The Josh Charles employee. Mr Charles played the character of Will Gardner on the Good Wife. He was fantastic in it and helped propel that show forward. He was on it for a long time and simply put got tired. He had given it his all and wanted to move on and take a break. He went out in a blaze-with his character dying a surprising death on the show that no one saw coming. Even on his resignation he did a great job. Now, he actually helped direct an episode. This is the employee that wants to see continued success for his former workplace and will continue to help out in ways in the future. He was just tired and understandably so.
- The Mandy Patinkin employee. He famously quit Criminal Minds at its height of popularity. Apparently he hated going to work every day because the workplace didn’t reflect his values. Or rather the show, in his eyes, was quite distasteful. He said in an interview “I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality.” One day he just did not show up to a table read. He was disengaged and could no longer be bothered. Sometimes all you can do is NOT show up to work. Although, some employers are still clueless when staff do not bother to show up. They barely notice and think it’s just that the person is working hard at home. Some bosses don’t even think about why the employee is not around as much anymore not realizing that the employee is now feeling soulless and has empty eyes and a perpetual shrugged shoulder when they are around.
- The Rob Lowe employee. Rob Lowe was pat of the Brat Pack. That alone should tell you something, correct? Then he had a sex tape scandal (who in Hollywood doesn’t?) that seemed to derail his career trajectory a bit. Then The West Wing hired him. He was the star or he was supposed to be. Then the rest of the cast stepped it up and performed an Emmy-winning effort. They wanted the same amount of money as he got. Many would argue, rightly so. They got a raise and he got mad. He demanded more money so that he would be making more than his peers. The bosses said no. He then quit and walked away. He felt indignant and petulant. He was supposed to be the star. He felt that he was being disrespected. Perhaps he was. But the others surely deserved a raise. Once you feel that level or instance of disrespect, you have to walk out the door or maybe just never show up again.
At the end of the day, what are the signs then that you have employees that fit these categories or are contemplating quitting? First off, they start complaining loudly about office culture, protocols or any other matter. They start making it known that the office does not reflect whatever value they are exampling to hold.
Second, they become very unproductive. They start satisficing and at times (when not complaining about protocols and the like) become quiet in meetings whereby they provide no useful suggestions.
Third, they stop contemplating the future. If you want to test the waters and see if the employee is going to quit offer them a new long-term project. Watch their body twitch, eyes enlarge and lips start to smirk but hold back.
Either way, you have to be attuned to the emotions of those in the workplace and hone that skill so that you can address problems before they arise or at least not be caught by surprise when people quit.