A couple of weeks ago the Vice President told his fellow democrats to “stop whining” and do something. Now, long-time readers know that we avoid politics in this space (you think business issues are polarizing – try getting people to keep an open mind when you write about politics!). However, that comment made me think of something and I want to share it with you guys.
Many supervisors share the VP’s thinking. People should stop whining and get to work. If you don’t like something, change it. I disagree and here’s why.
I never wanted my folks to keep their displeasure a secret. You see, I think that’s where problems start. Think about how often a co-worker would tell you about a problem that was festering, something about which they felt powerless to change, but did so quietly so others – especially the boss – couldn’t hear. Chances are that was in part because they didn’t want to be seen as complainers and in part because the boss didn’t foster an atmosphere of openness.
I encourage folks to bitch loudly. Let everyone know when there’s a problem so we can get as many eyes on it as possible. In fact, if you’re going to complain to your peers you had BETTER come and tell the boss first. Maybe she has facts that you don’t; maybe he can solve the problem on the spot. Maybe if it’s a company policy issue they can use your information to build a case for change.
I’ve had a few subordinates that were angry at the world and just complained because they didn’t know what else to do. I’ve had others that never opened their mouths about problems until the day they quit. Most folks understood that they could complain about anything and should. I couldn’t always fix it but sometimes just being able to express the issue went a long way to improving the situation. So bitch loudly. If you’re ignoring internal problems, trust me, inevitably your customers will.