keep the crabby at the door

It’s 5:30 Monday morning and I’m on my way to work.  I’ve done my Sunday blues routine and am mentally prepared for the week to come. (Yes, for the week. Y’all, I work with some of the crabbiest folks.) I arrive at work, clock in and start my Monday morning routine by separating reports, enjoying my coffee, checking email – all in all, having a good morning.

Moments after getting settled and started on reviewing my reports, it hits! Negativity has swarmed my office. It’s thick, suffocating and stinky! Sadly, this is an everyday occurrence.

More often than not I want to look at Grumpy Gus and Negative Nancy and ask them if their life is really that bad. Whining, complaining day after day. Nothing is ever good enough. The workload is too much. The work processes are failing. The complaints go on and on. And it’s not just work… it’s their personal life too. I was raised to keep your crabby at the door when you walk into work. Keep your personal life separate from business. Every now and then the crabby sneaks in through the cracks – sometimes ya just can’t shake the funk. I’m human; I’m flawed. But, I do my very best to keep it to a bare minimum.

Y’all, it’s so overwhelming – so much drama and chaos! A girl can only take so much!

I wish I could run away when I see it coming for my office. Be like Forrest and run, run far away. Though, with my position, I have to listen to it. Every day. Same sad stories, same complaints, same nothing is ever good enough.

So what’s a boss to do… listen. I listen to the complaints. I listen to the woe is me stories. While they talk I have to focus on my facial expressions and make sure I am not snarling, rolling my eyes, or any other sign that shows I’m not interested and annoyed. Y’all, my ears hurt!

I know what you’re thinking… she talks about loving one another, but she sounds so insensitive. I’m not being insensitive. I’m trying to help run a business. The negative, grumpy, complaining whiners wears a person down. I try to be understanding. I try to show some sympathy. I pray – pray they find happiness, pray their problems resolve, pray for their general well being.

My first instinct is to help, but I refuse to dive into the personal woes. Boundaries are important in my position, with my people. I will offer an “I’m sorry to hear that” or an “I hope things get better.” But that’s where it has to stop. Work related complaints and whines – I’ll totally offer solutions. A “what about trying this…”, “have you considered this…” By now I’ve offered so many valid, could be successful solutions.

One thing I have learned being a supervisor is that some people just want to complain. They don’t actually want to fix the problem. They just need some sort of validation, acknowledgment that they exist in the workplace.

Luckily the leadership classes I attend give advice and recommendations on how to handle these complainers and whiners. I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for the women that teach these classes! 

Some of their recommendations:

  1. Make it their responsibility. If they come to you with a problem, encourage them to find a solution.
  2. There’s a very good chance, because complainers and whiners are not good at solving problems, you will hear the same complaint over and over. In this case you can look at the person(s) and politely tell them that you’ve heard the complaint before and you’ve offered suggestions to help solve the problem. Tell them that you would be happy to hear their suggestions if they are not willing to follow what you’ve offered. You can, politely, tell them that you don’t need to continue to have that conversation anymore if they aren’t willing to fix the problem.
  3. Remember, employees are accountable for their actions. Make them accountable. In the end, you are running a business.
  4. Communicate with the difficult, prickly person(s). Don’t avoid them.
  5. Understand that any long-term improvements will take time. Be patient.

I want nothing more than my employees to be happy people that enjoy coming to work. With that in mind, I have implemented a new form to give them an anonymous voice. It’s been titled “Employee Compliment, Complaint and Suggestion Form.” I am very hopeful this will bring some positive changes. This form is 100% anonymous via a fillable PDF that EVERY employee has access too. Now the trick to this form (which I think is the reason I have not received any submissions yet) is a solution is highly encouraged to be submitted along with the complaint. I strongly believe that front-line employees have some of the best ideas. They are the ones doing the work day after day. They know what would make a process more efficient, more beneficial to our cause. I want to hear from them more than they believe.

I want to be an encouraging voice. The person that they can count on. The one they trust. Do you know how hard it is to change a culture that has been in place for years and years? Do you know how challenging it is to get people to trust a manager when they didn’t trust any previous managers to stand with them and for them? #thestruggleisreal

My dear struggling managers/people – keep your head up! Keep trying to make the positive, efficient changes in your workplace/life. Don’t give up! Believe me, I’ve wanted to give up more times than I can remember. But, I know my employees deserve better and I believe I can make a positive difference. Believe that you can be the positive change needed in your office/life. We can do this! It has to start somewhere with someone, let it be you! #teamworkmakesthedreamwork

Have you been successful in dealing with the whiners and complainers? What are some of the things you have done that have worked?

I’d love to hear from you! Comment below.



2 thoughts on “keep the crabby at the door”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s