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Silence the whining worker

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HC Online | 09 Apr 2013, 12:00 AM Agree 0
Not only can the complainer make work that bit more unpleasant for everyone, they can also reduce productivity. Here's how HR can make inroads.
  • Bernie Althofer | 10 Apr 2013, 10:37 AM Agree 0
    I would be interested to know a 'whiner' or 'complainer' defined.

    It seems that if a person is perceived to be a 'whiner' or 'complainer', there is an issue with how they are delivering the message (and the importance thereof) and how it is being both heard and dealt with by the person to whom it is directed.

  • Steve Punter | 11 Apr 2013, 08:08 AM Agree 0
    Whether it's just one, or a group of whiners, my first approach is to observe and make notes so I know what they're whining about and how often they're doing it. Then I need to consider whether the whine is justified. How many employees receive training in 'This Is How You Complain About Something' ? Often employees are unhappy but they don't have an easy or risk-free way to vent that unhappiness. So they whine, hoping someone influential might here it and do something about it.

    On a unionised site there's the advantage of a local on-site delegate and a formal and regular process for airing unhappiness, if necessary anonymously.

    Could it be that having a lot of whiners tells you as much about the culture of the company and the management as it does about the employee?

    If it's an individual, and when I'm in possession of actual facts rather than hearsay, I meet with the employee, lay the issue on the table, and ask how we make the problem go away. It may be easily fixed, or at the other end of the scale, it may need the employee to go - and we mustn't be shy of confronting that.

    If it's a group I still approach it on an individual basis at first, only moving into 'team' discussions when I think it's the right time (by then I've got facts and I've had a chance to establish rapport with some (if not all) of them.

    Sometimes, just talking about an issue makes the whining stop. Sometimes whiners come up with their own solution, when given a guided opportunity to do so. You don't always have to have a solution. Maybe there IS no solution; sometimes the job or the situation 'is what it is'. Imagine a grave-digger complaining that it's a dead-end job. But you've shown that you are genuinely prepared to listen and consider and try. That's the important bit.

    Destructive whining has to be stopped. It's a cancer right up there with passive-aggressive behaviour. It's a measurable, observable workplace behaviour and therefore it can be addressed like any other behavioural issue. In amongst the implied responsibilities of an employed relationship is the requirement to work in the employer's best interests. Good Faith works both ways.

    Steve Punter
    Auckland NZ
  • Jenny Scott-Badans | 14 Apr 2013, 11:00 AM Agree 0
    Great feedback Steve. I do agree if a company has many "whiners" the culture of that company should be looked at, although its not always the case as there are many individuals"whiners" who's sole purpose is to complain.

    Whining is a cancer and certainly does contribute to loss of productivity but its not an easy behaviour to stop. Well one can never "stop" whining but certainly getting the instances of reduced is a good start.
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