What do you do when your team constantly complains? Below is an excerpt from WINX with a suggestion you may like!
“….., read on about a decision-maker who was frustrated with complaints vs. strategically thought through recommendations.
“I’ve instituted a new rule,” Sam told me. “Don’t come to me with a problem, complaint, or criticism unless you have a list of possible solutions, or at least an idea for a solution. I think it eliminates the whiners and malcontents,” he said.
“How’s that working out for you?” I asked.
“So far, so good,” he said. “Complaints are down by 90 percent and people with legitimate complaints are providing some really interesting solutions. Things are getting done and morale is actually up.”
Over time, Sam told me that people who initially hated the new policy began to embrace it, and even enjoy it. People who were tired of hearing co-workers complain all the time began to ask the complainer, “So, what’s your solution?” Regardless of whether they cared about a solution or not, or they simply wanted the colleague to quit complaining didn’t matter. The shift in thinking about problems did. Persistent complainers simply left when they realized no one wanted to hear them constantly complain, without o!ering solutions. All this resulted in a subtle change in the company culture—an unexpected bene”t.
Taking responsibility and ownership for one’s problems and environment empowers people and changes both work culture and personal and professional mindsets. While Sam’s new rule may have seemed blunt and cruel to some employees, he accomplished exactly what he wanted—employee engagement and ownership in their jobs. When people had issues or problems, knowing they’d have to present a solution or potential solution to the problem caused them to actually think about the problem itself—often resulting in their answering or “xing the issue themselves. When Dwayne, a shipping clerk in the warehouse, began to complain about having to traverse across the warehouse for supplies several times each night, his co- workers reminded him of Sam’s rule and for several hours Dwayne was silent.
After his break, he approached his supervisor and laid out the problem, including an estimate of the time he and other packers spent getting supplies. He suggested being allowed to use a forklift to move a pallet of boxes and packing items to the production line at the beginning of each shift.
He also went to his co-workers and ran his idea past them—discussing the “best” place to move the supplies too—so everyone benefitted. Two workers told Dwayne, “I hope this works. My back is killing me every night after carrying all those heavy bundles.” Another worker mentioned how they’d have fewer boxes to recycle because the moisture and water that dripped on the boxes from being up against the warehouse wall would no longer be an issue.
As Dwayne shared all these comments with other co-workers, each one came up with other reasons to justify moving the supplies pallet.
By the time Dwayne spoke to Sam, reading the crew’s reasons from the back of a paper lunch sack, he had a lengthy list of pros and cons.
Moving the supplies would reduce all the walking workers had to do. He pointed out that the strain on older workers’ backs from carrying the boxes would be eliminated. This would result in fewer injuries. Not only was it safer, but having the supplies right at hand would save time. Sam agreed and let Dwayne move the pallet next to the line. It’s now a permanent part of the shipping process.
While simply moving boxes and supplies doesn’t seem like a big deal, the fact that Dwayne felt heard, and had his complaint and his idea recognized, empowered him and boosted his confidence. He began to look for other ways he could improve his workstation and help others. He liked hearing his co-workers tell him how much they appreciated not having to walk across the warehouse to carry boxes and supplies back and forth each night.
What Sam found out later was that somewhere along the line, the pallet of boxes and shipping supplies had been moved so machinery could be repaired and replaced and a new conveyor belt installed. That process had turned into an unexpected two-month-long process in which the packing supplies remained against the warehouse wall— out of the way of the engineers. Once the machinery was operational, no one thought to move the pallet of supplies back—and employees just continued to needlessly walk across the warehouse for supplies, until Dwayne brought it up.
Sam told me this story immediately when I explained WINX Step 6, “presenting the options to the decision-maker.” What Dwayne had done in coming to him was to not only propose a solution—moving the packing supplies—but he also explained the pros and cons of his solution versus other options. He also explained various options he considered and why he recommended this particular solution. Like most of us do, he wanted to present enough evidence to justify and support his solution.
“I’d already figured out Dwayne’s solution when he told me what his ‘complaint’ was,” he said. “But I wanted to see what he’d say. I could have just said, ‘Why not just move the supplies?’ but he wouldn’t have benefited from my giving him the answer. I was impressed that he not only came up with a solution, but with the pros and cons of the solution.”
I use Sam and Dwayne’s simple example of how to present a solution to a decision-maker because it clearly explains how and why presenting options to a decision-maker is needed.”
Problem solving can be much easier than we make it. Read WINX – The Problem Solving Model to Win Exponentially with Customers, Employees & Your Bottom Line. Audiobook, Kindle, Paperback or Hardback. Your choice. Here is the Amazon link. https://www.amazon.com/WINX-Problem-Solving-Exponentially-Customers-Employees-ebook/dp/B0B5JS4CZ8/
If you like the Audiobook version and don’t use Amazon (Audible) shop wherever you buy your audiobooks. And don’t forget to ask at your local library.
If we can help you with your problem solving, people, processes, or purpose (company culture). Or if you need a speaker reach out to us at https://paronegroup.com/contact-us/