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Submitted by pucciot on


 Hi all,


I m looking for some perspective and guidance about handling my Directs when they start complaining about things during our staff meetings.

How much should I tolerate this ?

Should I respond or just let them have their say and then move on in the meeting ?

Today's example :

Our Org is initiating a new Performance Management (Annual reviews) system.

I have a direct that began complaining that these types of things are useless and waste time.  That they erode trust between the organization that the workers. And that it has nothing to do with what it takes to really get the work done. etc ......

I responded that this is just a new tool for annual reviews.

And that the Organization has decided that Performance Management is important and this is how we will do it.

Work that is not reported and measured is work that is not done.

And that if the Org has decided it is important to our work that it _is_ now part of our jobs.  It _is_ part of our work.


I felt that I was being very heavy handed.

This direct often has mini-tirades that are complaints about our upper administration and how they do things.  He tries to surry-up some commiseration from the rest of the team.  Usually, there is some commiseration and a few folks chime in.

Should I respond ?

Should I quash these displays ?

Should I give them a few moments to air their complaints and then move on ?


If I wish to give feedback, What should I say is the "here's what happens"  part ? 


Any Suggestions ?





Doe any body else



BariTony's picture

Particularly with the high D's and high C's on my team. I explained it to them in a weekly meeting like this:

1. This is what the organization has put forward as a requirement. Nothing that I or they say or do is going to make it go away.

2. I explained what the true purpose of annual reviews are - there's a podcast for that. (This was easier since I'd already been rolling out the Trinity and had gotten through the O3's and the feedback model.)

3. The organization was going to use their performance, as tracked in the annual reviews, as guidance for who would receive raises, promotions, and bonuses.

Suddenly, the naysayers became very interested in adhering to the performance review process.






Chip's picture

I have the same issue with a couple of my directs around a safety initiative they have implemented at our site.  While my people are IT focused we are located in a smelter/refinery.  I let them vent for a short time.  Everyone wants to be listened to but my response has been:

  • it is a mandate from management and we need to comply
  • it takes 5 minutes a month, that is not too much to ask from you
  • we all agree safety is important, it is a good opportunity to start a conversation or reflect on what you are doing.

I do not allow a protracted conversation about this.  I ask that we discuss it in our one-on-ones if we need.  When it comes up in the one-on-ones I have the same response.  I let them vent some more but I do not argue with them I just tell them we have to comply.

Every month, I have to chase down one or two people to complete the requirement.  At this point they have all complied but I have already spoken to our safety rep and we have a plan in place when they do not complete the required action.  Safety is a key value of our organization and I expect them to comply.  Yes it means I have to chase and I see the rolled-eyes when I talk about the requirement, but I think that says more about them than it does about the requirement.  It comes up in my one-on-ones with my manager and I am candidate about it as I do not feel I have to protect them from their own actions.

If we were not a unionized environment I suspect I we would be having the same conversation about annual reviews.  That is something that has not bee tackled here seriously while I have been here.  The funny thing is that these directs do not have a problem with one-on-ones its just the formal programs that management introduces that they rebel against even when they are benefiting from them.  The other thing I find funny is that these are two relatively new employees.   I would expect more push back from the long time employees that have been here and typically have a stronger sense of entitlement.


vinnyjones's picture

For general complaining rather than the specific example used here, I would rather let the team get stuff of their chest within the safe environment of the team meeting rather than it leech into the organisation and have other departments have a negative view of our team. 

For me it looks like this:

1. I would use the medicine ball technique (there is a cast for that) after a few minutes of the team blowing off some steam, "has anyone got any different views"

2. Someone will usually chime in with a more positive point of view

3. Irrespecitve, I would end that section with a helathy dose of stocism: a) "is the outcome in or out of our control?" b) "what IS in our control?" c) "What actions do we want to take on this as a team"


Usually I find we come out the other end in a better place that just delivering JFDI with no discussion.


SuzanneB's picture

You could use Feel,Felt,Found in these situations.

Giving feedback on this behavior is definitely appropriate.  It might sound like this:

Part 1

when you complain about organizational changes...

when you complain without offering suggestions for alternatives....

when you interrupt information I am sharing about a change to complain...

Part 2 makes you appear unprofessional. decreases team morale. causes others to question your commitment to our team's success.