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Easy tips on handling employee complaints


Grievances are a common occurrence at the average work place.

Knowing how to manage these grievances is key to building a successful career. But many employees have absolutely no skills when it comes to handling complaints.

They resort to speaking about them to anybody who cares to listen. While this may make them feel good, it amounts to badmouthing others and does not augur well for their careers.

Others will simply keep quiet, giving in to undue pressure to keep the peace. And there are those who will resort to shouting matches in a bid to communicate their grievances.

In some extreme cases, some people will simply lie low in the hope that their grievances will evaporate. This seldom happens, and within no time, they have to contend with their own depressed productivity at work and the resulting consequences.

It is in everyone’s best interest that grievances at work get handled well and in the shortest time possible. For the company, this translates to happier employees, fewer down times, enhanced productivity and happier customers.

For the employee, the results are obvious: a happier experience at work, higher self-esteem and better career prospects.

The solution

So what is the best way to handle your grievances as an employee?

The solution must begin by appreciating your personal role in solving your own problems, including those at work. Never shy away from confronting your grievances. Remember if you do not face them, no one else will.

Appreciate the existing hierarchy at work. Work with your assigned supervisor as he or she is best suited to understand your circumstances. Your level of people skills will come in handy in doing this.

Resist the temptation to air your grievances as an infringement of your rights; rather communicate them as obstacles to your performance at work. If you have a difficult supervisor you must work at creating the necessary environment to pass the message.

It is always important to document the real issues as opposed to making loud and directionless noise. Proper recording will help keep the discussion on course.

For instance, a quick email coupled by a request for a meeting works better than simply walking into someone’s office unannounced and setting off on a litany of complaints in anger.

You must also steer clear of the herd mentality. The herd mentality — where you speak on behalf of a team — tends to elicit suspicious emotions that might delay the resolution of issues.

However, if you do have to present grievances on behalf of your colleagues, ensure you stick to the real issues as opposed to delving into personal matters that are of no relevance to the team.

Some people are also known to take advantage of grievances to settle real or imagined scores. Even when somebody else has genuinely failed to deliver, the focus should always be on resolving the issues as opposed to punishing the culprit. This helps avoid the vicious cycle of infighting that has become more common in modern work places.

As a success-minded individual, you must strive to see your career beyond the current job and work on building supportive, long-term relationships. As such, short-term, knee jerk measures to settle grievances should have no place in your career life.

—The writer is a human resources and careers specialist at Peoplelink Consultants, and co-author of The Career Code. [email protected]

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