Dissatisfied Employees Are The Best


Some folks tell us that dissatisfied employees are a liability. I say they are an asset. Or more accurately, dissatisfied employees could be a liability or could be an asset. It depends on the nature of the dissatisfaction. Show me a chronic complainer and I’ll show them the door. Chronic complaining, the kind that offers no solutions to sources of complaint, is useless. That only brings us all down. It is a victim approach to life/work, where whatever it is that the complaint is about is somehow distanced from those experiencing it. Someone else is responsible to make it better, and further, those at the site of the problem are not going to contribute anything except more complaining.

Show me an employee that sees something that is not quite as good as it could be and steps up to make it better. I’ll show you a successful human being. This person uses the dissatisfaction as fuel to do better. The world has not been placed here into our service as slaving servant but as a playground and classroom and partner in being a provider for all of our material needs. The person who uses dissatisfaction as an entry point to give service, to contribute, expand and learn and ultimately come to gratitude, that is the best dissatisfied employee. Send me all you can find. Dissatisfied and eager to make things better, yes, send me those.

The key seems to be the attitude that is adopted when a problem/challenge is encountered. Have I come across this situation in order to be stopped? Or have I come across this situation as invitation to grow and contribute. That word ‘contribute’ acknowledges that we are we, not just me, together, interdependent. Yes, attitude is what makes the difference.

Three people are working among a pile of rocks along a roadside. They appear to all be doing the same thing, whatever that is, as it is not all that evident. The first person is asked, “what are you doing?” . The answer is ‘breaking rocks’. The second person asked the same question answers, ‘cutting bricks out of the stones’. The third responds with ‘building a Cathedral’. Which one do you want to hire? And that question to you is independent of the job you need filled. What is the premium that you would place on the attitude of the employee? Notice the look on the face of the three workers by the road as you heard their answers. If you saw a silent video of the questions and answers where you could see the face of the respondents, which one would want to hire? How obvious is your choice to you?

How might you insert an ‘attitude’ question into the next hiring interview you conduct? It is not about the super specific technology that your company or organization works with. That can be covered in other questions. We need something outside of the technology specific knowledge, something that is just about ‘people’ and specifically, if we can, designed around this one interviewee that is sitting here in front of us. If our concern is patience the question scenario might be different than if our concern were willingness to win against all odds.

So unless we were to in advance design a bazillion ‘attitude testing’ scenarios, this article is complete. Design a scenario that puts the person into a dilemma where their choice in how to get beyond the dilemma strongly suggests their ‘attitude’ with respect to that part of the work you need them to do.

I didn’t say it would be easy. (we could talk J )


Joseph Seiler MCC