A better way to hear complaints

Chronic complainers can certainly drain your energy and time. However, some complaints are worthy of your attention, so you can’t silence them all.

Instead, listen to employees—but don’t solve their problems. If you do, employees will likely just complain about your solution. Then encourage them to truly consider the issue—by asking them these questions:

  • Why is this important to you? Ask them to think about their intentions and the reasons they feel a change is necessary.
  • How will the solution benefit others? If you resolve one person’s complaints without taking the entire group into account, you’ll invite more complaints from others. Ask employees to come up with solutions that have a positive impact on the team.
  • What would you like to do about this today? Making the employee responsible for the solution is critical—and the quicker the person acts, the quicker you can put it behind you.
  • What can I do to help? Again, you aren’t solving the problem, but you should make yourself available to provide resources and support.

— Adapted from “How to Complain Like a Leader,” Dan Rockwell, The Leadership Freak Blog, https://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com.