8 Signs An Employee Has Mental Toughness


We are living in a world of work where “average” is no longer enough.

We need exceptional.

We need employee’s that are dependable, hardworking and proactive and are not afraid to take a risk. In work place environments we are now expecting more and more from employees. They need to look past their job descriptions and really consider an opportunity to add real value to their role. They need to find their purpose embedded within their role and take their organisation with them as they explore new found opportunities within change.

These are the employees that display Mental Toughness.

Mental Toughness is more than resilience alone. Individuals need not only to be able to bounce back after adversity strikes, they need to be able to be exposed to change and challenges and demonstrate their ability to thrive irrespective of the prevailing circumstances.

If you want to spot that employee who has Mental Toughness, here are 8 signs to look out for:

1. They think beyond their job descriptions.

An employee needs to be able to think on their feet and be agile in response to challenges and face these head on. Irrespective of their job description, a mentally tough employee will simply consider what needs to be done – and then do it. They don’t wait to be asked or told. They just do.

2. They manage their personal stress

Have you ever had an employee who is a “little black rain cloud”? They come into work at 9:05am and by lunch time they have infected everybody with their own little black rain cloud and then you have a whole bunch of little black rain clouds.

A mentally tough individual manages their own personal stress levels and in fact has an empowering effect on others. They tend to keep others calm by demonstrating an opportunity to manage their anxiety levels as they “breathe through it”.

3. They volunteer for tasks.

Putting their hands up for new tasks and new challenges is part of their routine. They take any opportunity to learn a new task, a new skill, a new technique. They recognise that they may not always get it the first time. But they are willing to keep trying. They add the word “yet” to their learning curve. “I haven’t got it….yet”

4. They praise tall poppies.

Rather than cut tall poppies down, this employee wants to build them up and fertilise them.

In a recent study, employees asked what they would rather have when they beat their production quota. They had three choices: an extra $20 in their pay that week, a pizza voucher, or their boss thanking them personally on the shop floor. If you guessed the third choice – you were right.

Praise from a boss is great, but praise from a peer feels even better, especially if that person is a confident member of the team whom we look up to.

5. They do not accept the status quo.

They do not adhere to the policy – “this is the way we’ve always done it”. They question the status quo and want to know how they can always improve not only their own performance, but the performance of the whole team. They welcome feedback and see it as information on how they can improve, rather than interpret it as criticism.

6. They ask hard questions. 

Many employees are cautious to speak up especially in front of others. Mentally tough employees will often ask the questions that others are afraid to ask and sometimes will even ask questions they already know the answers to, simply to allow other people to hear the answer.

They often have this innate sense for the concerns of those around them and will step up to the plate to ask the questions or raise the issues that everyone else is thinking or is worried about so that they can be addressed. They see the “elephant in the room” and are not afraid to point at them.

7. They possess self-belief.

This employee is quietly confident. They are not the arrogant person standing up singing their own praises. They don’t necessarily need praise from an external source, as they have an “internal locus of control”. They recognise when they have done a good job and are able to revel in their personal self-congratulations. They don’t always need a witness to clap their hands. Don’t let this negate the fact that they enjoy being told they have done an exceptional job. But they don’t need the praise to keep them going. They are more self-motivated than that.

8. They set themselves goals

Some employees are easily distracted and lose focus on what they are trying to achieve. Any excuse -  from an email, to a phone call to scrolling through Facebook will distract them from their workplace purpose. A mentally tough employee builds routine around daily goals and outcomes and commits themselves to have stickability to those goals.

They will do what it takes to hit their targets and objectives and train themselves to be focused. They have a daily “to do” list and are clear about what they want to achieve on any given day.


How many were you able to tick off in your team?


Want some assistance developing the mental toughness of your employees and / or team? Contact Michelle on 0412047590 or via michelle@bakjacconsulting, or check here to review Bakjac Consulting’s website for more information.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.