I know you have been in this situation, I have been so many times I've lost count. There are two sides to it, one is you are the one complaining and the other is you are the person being complained to. There can be good things that come out from these types of interactions. It is good to have a person or a select group of people to talk through when something frustrates you. Talking through it will help you get a more well rounded perspective on things or ensure that what you see is something worth making an issue out of. The problems start when the only person you ever talk to doesn't actually help you change anything.
We all get caught up in politics and stupid things that happen at work. Every time there is a problem you shouldn't run to your manager. However, there are legitimate issues that happen at work that are hard to discuss. Realistically, telling the truth is hard. Nothing ever changes though unless you take action. So, the next time you find yourself in a situation like this, here are 5 tips on taking a productive approach in dealing with the issue.
- Talk with your manager - Explain to them you have some concerns and you aren't sure how to approach it. State that you aren't looking for them to solve the problem but you are looking for some input on how to deal with it. The advantage to this approach is it isn't dumping the problem on your manager but it raises awareness without you complaining to them. It also shows some initiative that you want to solve the problem but are humble enough to ask for help.
- Talk with the person - Face it, the vast majority of our problems are with individuals. By sitting down with the person and saying that you are a little concerned with their decision, work, etc. you can open up a dialog to solve the problem. I like to open with a statement such as, "Can I talk with you about Project X? I'm a little concerned about it because it isn't on schedule and I'm wondering what we can do to get it back on track." It is a very open way of dealing with the issue and shows that you aren't accusing the person of doing anything wrong.
- Offer to help - Sometimes things aren't getting done like you would like simply because of other factors. Simply ask, "Is there anything I can help with or you need me to do differently to help you out?" Take all of your time spent complaining and invest it in helping get the project done. Ignore the fact that it isn't part of your job. It impacts you as much as the next person if your company is struggling.
- Stop the complaining in others - Complainers usually feed off of each other. The next time you are in a situation where you hear complaints, ask, "So what should we do to fix it?" Listening to complainers is like buying an alcoholic a drink, probably not the best move you could make.
- Always have a solution - If you need to complain or see a problem, go ahead and talk about it, as long as you have a valid solution. Every company has problems. All individuals have conflicts. Do something about them. If you come with a solution, even if it isn't the solution chosen you won't be labeled a complainer. You will be viewed as someone that recognizes problems and works to solve them.
Work should be fun. Challenges should be viewed as opportunities. The successful companies are those that take action on the problems and turn them around. It is hard to be successful when everyone is huddled around the water cooler complaining about how unsuccessful you are. What are you going to do to help your company be successful?