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Chronic Complaining Employee Syndrome: How To Approach Employee Whining And Complaints Productively

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Having an open-door policy for all your employees is a great gesture. But if employees are barging inside offices to tattle their slightest inconvenience, or a misconduct of a colleague, it can be disruptive.

A Gallup survey indicated that 18 percent of the US workforce is actively disengaged and prefers complaining about their jobs.

Employees coming up with constructive criticism or important concerns are perfectly usual, but frequent and excessive complains might inculcate negative workplace environment.

Here is now you need to handle chronic complainers in your workplace.

One-On-One Meetings

Take control. Don’t interact or discuss complains in the lobby or near the water cooler. Schedule an agenda-oriented meeting. Keep the meeting under 15 minutes and listen to employee concerns.

In some cases, employees feel that they are unheard. By providing them a safe place to speak, you can address majority of their issues.

Display Empathy

Employee wants to be heard. Showing consideration does not necessarily mean you agree with them. Put the complainers at ease by expressing empathy, but don’t make a habit out of this, or else you may have a line of employees seeking assurance lining at your door.

Appreciate Their Concern

If an employee is raising a complaint against a new office policy or procedure, appreciate their feedback and assure them that the meeting conducted in your office will be confidential, free of judgment or any penalizing action.

Don’t Argue

The key characteristic of a complainer is that they are inflexible and lack the ability to see other’s point of view.

Save your time and energy for other productive activities and don’t try changing their point of view.

The employee has made up their mind before entering the meeting room. You can’t alter their belief in 15 minutes or explain if an issue is not as important as they think. Instead, reassure them, that you have noted their concern and will work towards making things better.

Turn The Table

Complaining is an easy part, but coming up with actionable solutions is difficult. Ask the complainer to suggest likely solutions for the problems they are facing.

Make sure you don’t get personally involved in the problem; let them take the responsibility. Let employees resolve workplace conflicts by addressing people who are center of the problem.

Transform Complaints Into Constructive Feedback

Test the relevance and authenticity of complaints by asking following questions:

  • Does this matter impact your job?
  • What are the likely solutions?
  • What is the root cause of the problem?
  • Do you have other evidence to support your complaint?
  • Would you like to discuss this further with HR?

To measure the seriousness and accountability of a complainer, you need to probe them about their stance.

A habitual complainer will back-off, if asked to take accountability of the complaint. People make the culture of an organization. You will face a unique situation every time, as different employees have different problems.

We can make this process easier for you, sign-up at DFRI and manage complaints effectively. We provide comprehensive guidelines for conflict resolution in the workplace and HR advisory services.