Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining – it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn’t solve any problems. – Zig Ziglar
A guide at Blarney Castle in Ireland was explaining to some visitors that his job was not always as pleasant as it seemed. He told them about a group of disgruntled tourists he had taken to the castle earlier in the week.
“These people were complaining about everything,” he said. “They didn’t like the weather, the food, their hotel accommodations, the prices, everything. Then to top it off, when we arrived at the castle, we found that the area around the Blarney Stone was roped off. Workmen were making some kind of repairs.” “This is the last straw!” exclaimed one lady who seemed to be the chief faultfinder in the group. “I’ve come all this way, and now I can’t even kiss the Blarney Stone.”
“Well, you know,” the guide said, “according to legend, if you kiss someone who has kissed the stone, it’s the same as kissing the stone itself.” “And I suppose you’ve kissed the stone,” said the exasperated lady. “Better than that.” replied the guide. “I’ve sat on it.”
Moaners, groaners, and complainers – you know exactly who I am speaking of and no doubt already have them identified. These are the ones in your organization who just can’t help themselves – they tend to complain about everything.
Recent surveys (http://bit.ly/1o4sJ0u) indicate that negativity is on the rise in the workplace. According to Jim Harter, Gallup’s chief scientist for workplace management 18 percent of U.S. employees are actively disengaged and will complain about their companies. Knowing the stages of company critics is a must for leaders who desire to improve employee relations and maintain a healthy culture. Helpful to you as a leader is to know where your people fit into each category. Here are the four stages for your consideration.
The resistant critic
The resistant critic is the one who for no other reason than just to be antagonistic is against most every new idea and tends to be the resident complainer –in- chief. The resistant critic is locked into a predisposed mindset that makes it difficult to welcome new ideas, sees progressive ideas and people as threats, and will be the last to sign off (if at all) on strategies moving forward.
It will take an extended amount of time to convert the resistant critic and the way forward will not be easy- if achievable at all. The potential value of this person must be weighed against future benefits. If the resistant complainer is too much of a drag on morale and progress then it might be best to cut your losses and move on. In short – proceed with caution.
The reluctant skeptic
Unlike the resistant critic the reluctant skeptic is cautiously engaged. Healthy organizations need these people. By and large they tend to come on board with the mission of the organization but are not certified “yes men” and are not afraid to state the obvious. Reluctant skeptics may have their opinionated ways but for the sake of your future it can be a good thing to hear their voices and pick their brains.
Reluctant skeptics are a careful breed and tend to buy-in to the vision but only after careful deliberation. Arm them with the facts and give them time to process it and they can be your voice of reason. They may be the last to come on board but once they do they can be your strongest allies.
The reasonable participant
The reasonable participants are your tried- and- true loyal troopers. Almost always you can depend on them to be in your corner. While not as vocal in their criticisms as their above mentioned counterparts their voices tends to offer support first while working out the flaws later. The reasonable participant is the backbone of your organization and seldom seeks to rock the boat.
The reasonable participants are your influencers. They are the ones who can come alongside the skeptics and critics and elevate the dialogue and keep morale strong. Important for you as a leader is to never take these team members or their loyalty for granted.
The responsible performer
Ultimately, this is the outcome you are striving for in your organization- people who are engaged, producing, and performing at their best. Chances are you know where most of them fit. Moving people in your organization to this stage will take time, effort, and the best uses of your leadership skills. When each team member is now a responsible performer then your organizational culture is performing as it should.
Knowing the direction that your company critics are moving is important. As a leader it’s upon you to show the way.
What do you say?
© 2014 Doug Dickerson