How to react when your team complains

Your team is complaining, a member of your team is negative no matter what you propose... 😩

Complaints are part of team life but can have a catastrophic impact on your morale and your team...

However, you can transform them positively - provided you understand why your team is complaining and adapt your response:

🌱 1. Productive complaints

They come from a sincere desire to draw your attention to a problematic situation.

As a manager, listen carefully: you will find concrete solutions and new ideas to improve the functioning and performance of the team.

Encourage the collaborator to go further: how can the situation be resolved? What does he/she propose?

😤 2. Emotional complaints

Faced with a difficult situation, some collaborators need to express anger and frustration. It is a normal reaction but can generate stress in the team.

Start by showing empathy without minimizing the collaborator's feelings. Your goal should then be to move from emotion to action. Ask questions to identify the problem and look for concrete solutions.

Also set up weekly 1:1 meetings: this creates regular opportunities to calmly address important issues.

⏰ 3. Chronic complaints

Some people give the impression of complaining all the time. This can come from a state of mind rather than a real problem and is therefore more difficult to solve.

Still listen to your collaborator, show curiosity and interest in understanding the root causes of this chronic dissatisfaction. This is the best way to reverse the trend and prevent it from affecting the rest of the team.

This listening will potentially allow you to identify structural problems within your team - collaboration problems, defective processes - but when a chronic complaint brings nothing, know how to be firm and move on.

☢️ 4. Toxic complaints

Sometimes people complain to derive personal benefit or discredit other collaborators. It is important to quickly identify this type of behavior: is it aimed at solving a problem or harming someone else?

Then, objectify the situation, ask for concrete examples and find out if other people have raised the same problem.

Whatever the nature of this complaint, it is interesting to have an open and active listening posture. The best way to do this while always remaining focused on work? Have regular 30-minute 1:1 meetings.

To set up 1:1 meetings that are prepared, focused on the right topics and followed by concrete actions, we recommend using Popwork with your team.

In conclusion, these situations are not pleasant but there is worse: never receiving feedback from your team. If your collaborators complain, it is also a sign that they are engaged!