Chapter 92. Why a Good Boss Likes It When People Complain

Cate Huston

I love when people complain to me. Of course, complaining is a national past time for the British, and we don’t just limit ourselves to complaining about the weather or the poor availability of good tea when traveling. Brexit has provided some strong fodder for complaining (where do we begin?) but really your average Brit can complain about anything.

But, here’s why complaining is so useful to me as a manager:

It helps you find out about problems
First and foremost, complaining is an act of trust, one that gives you, the manager, the opportunity to address the issue and channel solutions. If people don’t trust you enough to complain to, you might never learn what’s wrong.
It is predicated on the complainer’s experience

I read an interesting article recently that said you shouldn’t give feedback, but rather focus on the experience. This can be a really helpful way to deliver tough feedback.

Similarly, when someone who reports to you tells you about their experience, there’s probably some implicit feedback there that can help you improve as a manager. Maybe they are complaining because, for example, they are missing some context that you should have been sharing with them—and probably should be sharing with other people, too.

It shows you what they value
People usually don’t complain about things they don’t ...

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