I recently got my hands on a small button. It has a red circle around
the circumference of the button and a red slash running diagonally through
the center - you know the one - the international symbol telling you
not to do something. And in the center of the button is the word "Whining."
I love this button. In one funny image it captures the bottom line of
any coaching relationship - when you come onto our coaching calls, there
is no whining allowed. Well, OK I may let you whine for a minute or so,
but then the fun is over and we are getting on to the vital business
of figuring out what you are going to do about whatever it is you are
Dealing with whining at work, however, may be harder than doing so on
a coaching call. In fact, an organization that tolerates whining can
evolve (or perhaps better described as devolve) into a miserable, corrosive
work environment. Truly, there is information in dissent and disagreement
as well as in complaints. As a manager you will have to deal with all
three. When your people come to you with complaints thank them for communicating
their concern to you. The last thing you want to do is cut off access
to this information.
At the same time, however, don't tolerate whining. If you do you have
no one to blame but yourself. Rather than tolerate the whining, establish
a simple, consistently applied, rule: I welcome all complaints and expect
each complaint to be accompanied by at least one proposed solution. When
you stop tolerating whining and promoting creative problem solving you
get some interesting results:
- It makes people stop and think about why things are the way they
are, and what the costs are to change them. Sure, there are plenty
of things that aren't perfect at work, but is it really worth the time
and effort to fix some of them? Is the marginal gain worth the marginal
cost? This sort of analysis helps people think through setting priorities
and deciding what is really important to be working on.
- As the boss
it will help you focus on the really important things. You want to
hear the concerns of your staff. But you also want them to engage their
brains before coming to you. As they stop whining and start thinking,
what does reach you will almost certainly have some merit.
- And then
some good ideas will start flowing! Let's face it: your people know
their jobs better than you do, so encourage them to help you solve
the problems. As the boss you cannot do it alland you have some great
people working for you.
- When employees see their ideas acted upon, you
honor them in a way nothing else can. They have now taken responsibility
for the job they are in and the organization they are a part of, and
as an "owner" are
helping to make it better. How cool is that!
Provided Courtesy of:
Maxwell & Associates
1012 Embassy Row Way • Seabrook Island, SC 29455-6005 • Voice 843-768-2227 • Fax 843-768-2170 • Rich@MaxwellCoaching.com