Do you have employees who contribute positive ideas? Or do you have employees who always seem to whine?

It’s great if your employees communicate with you. There are positive and negative ways.

If you have employees with whom who dread talking, chances are you have toxicity in your workplace.

If your employees whine instead of offering constructive ideas then you’ve got a problem.

Aimless complaining is a symptom of problems in teamwork, morale, negativity and/or productivity.

In some companies, it’s the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

However, you can do something about it.

Yes, you can encourage positive employee input without the drudgery of enduring a mere complaint session.


Here are six strategies:

1. Start with your behavior 

Be a good role model by being a positive example. Consider ways to best communicate with the team. Especially be careful when you’re having a bad-hair day like when you’re aggravated, overworked or stressed.

Think about your tone of voice and your body language.

Don’t use employees as a sounding board. If you need to vent, find a mentor or talk with someone outside of work.

2. Listen 

When an employee comes to you with a complaint, don’t react by simply dismissing it. Instead, respond. Think about what to say before you say it. Again, watch your tone of voice and body language.

Ask yourself if your employee is offering a bona fide suggestion or is merely complaining.

3. Stay objective 

Be careful with your biases. Don’t evaluate the employees’ comments based solely on your experiences.

If comments come from a person with a different gender, generation, intelligence level, race or background than yours, be empathetic and unbiased.

Often, the best input comes from people who are totally unlike you.

4. Persuade employees to come to you as a first resort

If your employees won’t come to you first, it might be because they don’t feel safe. You want them to come to you first before they start gossiping or creating morale issues among your staff.

The key is to advance or encourage trust in your workplace. If you’re asked to keep something confidential, honor the request if you can.

But there are times you can’t. Be a friendly manager not a buddy to your staff.

That also means not trying to solve the problem right away, if you need more time to evaluate a situation.

5. Coach your employees individually

To promote positive criticism not mere whining, schedule a time for coaching each offending worker in a confidential session. Use a pancake sandwich approach – two positives, a negative and then a positive.

Give the employee two strokes, diplomatically explain what you want from their communication and end the discussion with another stroke.

Make a note documenting the session and put it in the employee’s file.

6. Know when to say no

If you’ve done all these things and you still have an employee who doesn’t get it and repeatedly whines, it might be time to try one of two different approaches.

One, don’t threaten or bluff the employee, ask if a change in employers would work better.

Or, two, know that you might have to lay the groundwork for replacing the person.

The bottom-line: At all times, be empathetic as possible but keep in mind the welfare of your company.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related management tips:

10 Management Attributes for Effective Communication — Communication skills are critical for managers. People with enhanced abilities in communication typically have successful relationships at work and home. Good communicators typically have 10 attributes.

Secrets in Motivating Employees to Offer Profitable Ideas — Savvy employers know how to profit from their human capital. Such knowledge is a powerful weapon for high performance in a competitive marketplace. Furthermore, there’s a correlation among excellent sales, happy customers, and high employee morale. Proverbially speaking, employees are where the tire meets the road.

Management: How to Help Employees to Grow Professionally — Managers owe it to the organization to help their employees grow professionally. It’s hard, time-consuming work. But the return on investment is terrific. The organization benefits from higher employee performance and lower turnover. Strong employee retention obviously saves the employer a lot of time and money.

Management — 4 Mindsets for Leadership in Performance Reviews — Are you nervous at the thought of giving employee-performance reviews? You’re not alone. Your employees aren’t exactly thrilled, either. Typically, employees aren’t convinced they can get valid feedback. If they’ve experienced poor managers, they likely dread the performance-review process or are skeptical of the outcome.

HR Management: Think Like a Sales Pro to Recruit the Best Talent — One-size-fits-all approach to recruiting employees is not a strategy. You and your peers in human resources might be enamored with technology, but job candidates want more focus on the personal touch. That necessitates thinking like a sales professional.

“Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them.”

-Paul Hawken


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.