It’s Monday morning, you have a long to-do list, reports to complete, and several meetings to attend when you see one of your employees walking toward you appearing upset. Quick…what is your first reaction? Did you say exasperated because “you don’t have time for this” or concerned because you know “an upset employee is not a productive employee?” What was your first thought? Was it here comes the “Chronic Complainer” or here comes an opportunity to correct a problem?

Complaints are a symptom of dissatisfaction. When employees are dissatisfied they are less motivated and engaged in their work. They also can negatively impact the morale and engagement of their coworkers.

When employees complain to their manager they have trust that their problem will be solved. If employees don’t feel that their problems can be resolved within the organization they have a legal right to take it outside for resolution. The EEOC, OSHA, DOL, and NLRB are more than happy to take complaints from your employees and then you really won’t have time to get other things done because of the amount of time and disruption it will cause to resolve the complaint with the involvement of an outside party.

“Employees will only complain or make suggestions three times on the average without a response. After that they conclude that if they don’t keep quiet they will be thought to be troublemakers or that management doesn’t care.”
~ Peter Drucker, author and professor

Here are a few ideas to help minimize and resolve complaints:

  1. Open Door Policy: When an employee asks for a “minute of your time”, make the time. Truly listen to your employee without distractions using probing questions to learn the stated as well as the underlying problems.
  2. Be Clear about Expectations: Quite often complaints are misunderstandings about what is expected. Communicate regularly about behavior and performance expectations providing ongoing coaching so there are no unpleasant surprises for employees.
  3. Schedule Group Huddles: This is a weekly opportunity to ask what went right last week, what went wrong, and for team members to ask clarifying questions concerning projects and procedures.
  4. Attend Management Training: We recommend the course Managing Complaints

Contact us at or call 972 881-5282.