We know the adage that if you listen to a complaint you become part of the problem. The problem with that thinking is that complainers still complain. And make life difficult for those around them. And hold up progress.
But on the flip-side, they may have a valid complaint. Maybe there is something wrong, we’re not looking at it the right way (their way), or they actually have a suggestion for an improvement but no one is listening.
And then again, there are chronic complainers. That’s for another post.
When I work with a client, I like to get right into the complaint department. The fastest way to solve a problem is to find out what is wrong. Listen without preconceived ideas (such as – this person is NEVER happy), and get all that stuff out of the way. If there is something wrong, assess it and address it. It may be one of the Trifecta of Issues: process, tools or people.
Process can be modified (do get everyone compliant on the program). Most issues are with those who skirt process and cause others to have to either cover the gap or run around trying to figure out what’s going on.
Tools you use can be a huge issue. Just like process, get everyone using the same tools – the same way. Consistency is key to ensure everyone has access to ALL the information. There could be issues with tools like software that isn’t configured right or hard to use – or staff was never properly trained to use it. (My pet peeve).
People is often the tough one. Once expectations are clear, training is done, and everyone understands what and how they should work – those who don’t want to work with the program will surface quickly. Those who don’t understand will surface as well. Not everyone is cut out to be a PM or producer. And as I truly believe, this is not a job for beginners.
In the end, experienced staff should be able to manage work without complaints (other than the minor daily crap). If complainers continue, check the top two items (process and tools), then address the third item. Hear them out, and provide them with an opportunity to fix their attitude. Without the fix, they demoralize everyone around them. Keep in mind, there are a lot of great, experienced people who would love to work for you – without complaint.