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3 Ways to Deal with Whiny and Complaining Employees

Recently a client was telling me (complaining?) that a couple of her employees seemed to complain constantly. She felt that some of their complaints were valid but that the manner in which they voiced their issues were whiny and not constructive. That conversation reminded me of a blog posting on this subject that I would like to share. It is by Mike Rogers who is a talented teamwork and leadership coach and I always appreciate Mike’s brevity and take-aways that are easy-to-remember. Enjoy!

Ugh! You know them, you don’t like them and it’s hard not to do the very thing you hate about them – whine about them. If you are like me you have had your share of whiny, negative and complaining employees. The type that roll their eyes every time a change comes. The kind that have wrinkles around their mouth that show years of continual frowns. The person who has exhibited amazing creativity around finding the negative in everything. Ugh!

Well, here are my top 3 ways to put the whining to a halt.

 

One of these should work for you. But remember, it does take time to put it to rest since it has been a life-long habit for some.

1. Ask questions. Put it back on them. Ask, "What are you going to about it?" Simple question, but effective. Instead of allowing them to complain and whine, this question shifts the responsibility back on the employee. It’s also one I have used as a parent with great success. 

2. Help the employee see the bigger picture. For example the employee might say: "I am so tired of dealing with so and so." Your response might be: "I agree it can be difficult, but have you taken a moment to put yourself in so and so shoes to see where they are coming from?" or "Yep that can be tough, but isn’t it nice to have a customer like so and so that helps us pay our bills?

3. Create team do’s and don’ts. For me this has been one of the most effective ways to deal with whining on a team. Every team ought to have a list of do’s and don’ts that they agree to abide by. No whining can be at the top of the list. You can have fun with this as well. You could create a "No Whining Jar," and any time an employee is caught whining they have to contribute a quarter to it. Some will find that they are cleaning their pockets and purses of change very quick initially, but they will learn. As a result you might be able to do a few team lunches with the change or donate it to an agreed upon charity.