Tackle grumbling head-on with organized gripe session

It can start as one employee simply venting frustration. Then another joins in. Eventually, morale and productivity take a hit from all the rumor, gossip and negative words bouncing around the office or department.

How can you put a stop to it? Hold a gripe session—an organized forum to allow employees to vent.

It’s best if an HR person moderates such events. Consider inviting only rank-and-file workers so they won’t feel afraid of their boss’s reaction to a comment. Here are more tips:

1. Ask questions. Pose questions that uncover their concerns and gripes. Tell them their input will be seen as positive, as long as their words are productive and results-oriented.

2. Post input on a flip chart, and ask the group to vote on items that are most troubling.

3. Say nothing during the session. Only pose clarifying questions. Collect the anonymous comments and pass them along to the relevant boss (CEO, department supervisor, etc.).

4. Invoke a 48-hour promise. Tell the workers that you and/or the boss “will be in this room 48 hours from now with a response to the issues you’ve raised.”

5. In 48 hours, acknowledge their points, clear up any misunderstandings, identify issues that warrant attention and use the group to search for solutions, where possible.