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Dealing with Complainers

Patron leaders have to deal with more than just patrons (customers) who complain.  Many workers also complain and such complaints can create a very toxic envrionment.  Managers need to understand this concern and the following suggestions from Ceridian provides suggestiosn to help deal with a complaining worker.

Dealing with chronic complainers
Chronic complainers can be a challenge for managers. Some chronic complainers may find fault with almost any new idea or assignment. Others seem to have a chip on their shoulder. Either way, they can undermine morale and performance. And dealing with them can be especially complex if — apart from their negativity — they are good workers. The following suggestions may help you:

Deal with chronic negativity as soon as you can
You might begin by letting your direct reports know what kind of behavior you expect and value. If you want your team to take a positive approach to challenges, say so, and let them know if this will be a factor in performance evaluations.

Have a private meeting with someone who has a negativity problem
Describe what you’ve observed. Many chronic complainers don’t realize how negative they sound, either because no one has pointed it out or because they feel their complaints are fully justified. Let a complainer know what changes you would like to see.

Let the employee know that you want to hear possible solutions, not just complaints
Make it clear that when anyone on your team has a complaint, you expect to hear constructive ways to deal with the situation. Consider asking chronic complainers to propose up to three possible solutions to any concern they raise not just one. This helps to avoid an “either/or” mindset.

Be honest about what can’t change
It’s part of a manager’s job to offer support to employees who have concerns at work. But be honest about what you can’t change and what someone will have to accept. You may lose the trust of complainers and others if you say you’ll “look into” or “work on” finding a solution to a situation that’s beyond your power to influence.

Take a managerial approach
Avoid trying to change the complainer’s personality or overall view of life. It isn’t your job to make your employees happy. It’s your job to support their work.

Avoid taking the negativity personally
Some people are naturally cheerful and upbeat, while others tend to be negative and critical. Both types of employees would probably show those traits with any manager. Whether someone sees the glass as “half empty” or “half full” has little to do with you.

Follow up
Monitor the individual’s behavior. If you do not see evidence of positive changes — fewer complaints, a more positive approach at work — contact human resources for help.

Watch for legal issues
Some concerns, such as complaints about bullying or harassment, physical discomfort on the job, and anything that suggests an employee feels his rights aren’t being respected, always require a response from management after consultation with HR.

It’s important to deal effectively with employee complaints and chronic complainers in order to build a more positive, high-performing team.

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