Managers should coach, cultivate and encourage employees who seem to be chronic complainers because simply cutting them off may be counterproductive. Here's why.
Many managers have no patience with or time for workers who are chronic whiners and complainers. Frankly, I don't either. After all, the whiners and complainers are a needless drain on your good spirits and a needless distraction.
Equally important, the chronic complainer may be a negative influence on the overall morale of the entire workforce at your tire dealership or service shop.
This creates a very awkward situation because the whiner may well be a talented and productive worker afflicted with this nasty trait. The best compromise some bosses and co-workers can muster is to tolerate and avoid the person.
But as often as not, the whiner ends up being ignored and ostracized. If that person needs the job badly enough, he or she puts up with this treatment.
Experience shows, unfortunately, that ignoring the whiner ultimately may aggravate the whining and negativity. So instead of intentionally or unintentionally ostracizing this employee, consider bringing him or her closer to the flock.
Believe me, dismissing this person's attitude out of hand is the simplest and probably most natural response many of us make.
The greater challenge of your leadership skills is to coach and groom the worker to think first, speak second.
Furthermore, don't speak at all if you aren't ready to offer positive solutions to this real or perceived problem.
Suppose you're an owner or manager of a tire dealership or service shop. Most, if not all of you, value all the useful help and advice you can get in order to run the business efficiently and profitably. Experience shows that good advice comes from all corners in all sorts of forms.
One of the most underutilized sources of valuable help is your own workforce. Your employees are on the front lines, in the proverbial trenches every day. Therefore, they see what's working and what isn't. They see what's running smoothly and what isn't.
Certainly, professional consultants are important third-party sources of business-improving information.
But some owners and managers I've met could improve their business' productivity and efficiency simply by listening closely to their own workers. Sadly, they don't seem to value the knowledge and input of their own workforce.
Consider these steps, not only for the in-house whiner but to invite useful feedback from every worker.
First, privately counsel the complainer. Advise this worker that his or her feedback is vitally important to the long-term health of the dealership or service shop.
Then politely but firmly lower the boom: No complaints are allowed unless the complaint is delivered with at least one practical potential solution.
Better yet, offer several solutions. Any worker really worth his or her salt will deliver on this.
A true whiner who lacks a spine will not. Unfortunately, some people can't be “groomed” out of their pointless whining and complaining.
Next, hold a team meeting and encourage the entire crew—from service sales to technicians to tire busters—to provide constructive feedback on their areas of the business.
Some businesses create a suggestion box and encourage employees to respond in writing.
Last but not least, you may create a formal reward program of some kind for these helpful responses. The rewards needn't be extravagant but they should be meaningful. Some bosses offer a dining certificate at a popular restaurant. Others give a cash bonus.
Sometimes the bonus is paid time off or a certificate for purchases from the local mobile tool dealer.
Use your imagination!
So the next time someone at your business whines or complains, think about channeling and grooming that activity into an ongoing and useful feedback function. Let me know if it doesn't help your business.
Remember: Involved employees tend to be much more loyal workers. Loyalty, in turn, reduces needless turnover.