I call it whining. Our HR director says that’s insensitive. We’re both right.
I think people whine when they gripe but don’t do anything about it. He thinks they wouldn’t gripe if they didn’t have legitimate beefs. As I considered that, it led me to a solution that’s been working pretty well.
I wanted to set an expectation that recognizing a problem brings with it a responsibility to work toward a solution. Some people do that naturally, but not most. I realized that if that’s what I want my team to be like, they need a pretty robust problem-solving toolkit.
So I did two things. First, I made it as easy as possible for team members to log a problem and recommend a fix. There’s a drop box, an online form, an email address, and they can verbally tell me any time I walk through. I have the process down to two sentences, as short and sweet as they want to make it.
Next, I carved out a budget. If their proposed fix makes sense, they can go ahead and fix it. If not, we put a little work group together to find a better answer. Either way, there’s already resources available.
Whining just doesn’t happen around here anymore. Instead, a lot of problems get solved. And solved quickly.