Why Complaining is Important For Workplace Success

I was having lunch with the CEO of a mid size company last week and he was telling me how stressful the workplace is for his team. Among the many challenges they have, perhaps the greatest is meeting the financial and operational demands put upon them by their venture funders.

I asked him how he addresses the stress on the team and he told me that when he brings it up, he finds that it usually transitions into “complaining”. He knows that his team’s concerns are legitimate but he doesn’t see how he would be able to address them satisfactorily while maintaining the high demands of the workplace.

I suggested to him that he should actually encourage the complaining.

While it may be difficult for him to hear his team’s grievances, it’s actually important that he does, basically for two reasons.

The first is that harbored stress doesn’t get better on its own. Giving his team members the chance to express it allows them to get it out of themselves. Complaining is actually a form of grieving and grief that is unexpressed never heals.

The second reason is that unless he knows where the impediments lie, he may miss out on some low hanging fruit that can create easier paths to meeting their business expectations.

Allowing people the opportunity to gripe and grumble is a time-honored tradition we all engage in whether it is at work or at home. The important thing to remember is that while it is okay to visit that place, we don’t want to live there.

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2018

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