Please complain, but only if you have a solution
A complaint not followed up with a solution is whining.
A complaint followed up with a solution means you have a valid complaint. Here's why.
If it can be fixed then something is happening that is causing stress. This stress is causing an emotional stir in the ocean within. This stress could be showing up in physical symptoms.
This is about emotional and mental health not about anything being right or wrong.
What is causing the stress?
Why is it causing stress?
What can realistically be done to change the situation to discontinue the feeling of stress?
When I was working in the corporate world I was asked since I had seemed to think I had all the answers to go with all my complaints to do something about it and was given the project of redesigning the operating model for customer service for a fortune 100 company.
Using this as an example let's walk through my thought process and see if we can find the holes.
Most of the complaints centered around not enough face time between supervisors and representatives and supervisors taking up to 30 escalated calls a day.
Before redesigning this model I was such a regular at the bar I went to after work that after I had stopped going for a year, I made it one night and before I could even open the door my usual drink was on the bar waiting for me.
Anyone think this is healthy behavior?
I was stressed out because my people were in my face about needing my time and my bosses were in my face because my people were in my face. I was getting yelled at 30 times a day by customers. I was not the only one. It had become the norm in the call center.
Most of my leadership material came from the my design model to make it better for everyone involved. The solution I came up with was to add something old and give it a twist. A few years before I started at the company they used to have a lead position to assist the supervisor so they could focus on the people.
Adding the lead I added defined roles and responsibilities for us to work in a synergistic union with the core idea being training the lead to be me. I always felt part of my job was to train my replacement and if I was as good as I could be I would have more than one waiting in the wings for when I moved up.
Adding the lead gave me more float time to float from representative to representative to check in and see how they were doing. It gave me more time to get to know them as human beings and see the stress they were under and gave me opportunities to alleviate that stress if possible. With this company I had spent a year on the phones as a rep and understood the pressures of the job. Did I mention it was health insurance customer service?
When dealing with peoples money and their health empathy was at the core of everything we trained our people to provide our customers with. Taking my favorite interview question and my favorite answer to that question left me with some integrity to walk.
My reps were my customers and now the focus of my empathy. My bosses were my customers and I found myself asking more about their daily stress as well and seeing what I could do to ease it or if I was causing it.
Believe it or not I have been known to stress out a boss or everyone I have ever had and why I went into life coaching and consulting. In case you haven't noticed I ask uncomfortable questions and usually have an answer for them.
What I noticed more than the improved team performance and morale after doing it my way was the what it had done to me.
I was 28 years old and I had started to be more mindful about what my position and role was in these peoples lives not only as their boss, but in some cases one of the few people they had to talk to about life. I got to know their kids and pets names and would ask about them. I had become more humane in the view of my job as I became more human in my contact with my people more regularly.
I started to see them more as my children and part of my job was to protect them from changes in policy that might make their jobs harder than they already were. I cared how these proposed changes were going to emotionally impact them and thus impact their performance. These were the debate points I using back in 2001. It was after one too many of these debates where I had stopped changes from happening that the director gave me my shot at putting the companies money where my mouth was.
The point is that I had a solution every time. I never went to meeting with a complaint without a possible solution or 6. Time is money in the corporate world and why waste both on brainstorming with everyone if you can come prepared and cut down the time it takes to decide on resolution.
The squeaky wheel gets the oil.
If no one ever speaks up and out nothing ever changes in the day to day operation of anything that much. The names we remember from history that had the biggest impact on change of were also the biggest complainers, but they had a solution to go with it.
The weren't cynical and had forgone optimism and realistically they were not gong to accept the status quo so pragmatically they chose a course of action to be heard and make an impact that would create change.
If no one complains you assume everything is fine and there is no need to even think about change.