Do you struggle to respond to complaints? Complaints are not all treated equally. Most managers welcome and can deal with a complaint that is valid and objectively expressed. Complaints that seem trite, invalid, or resemble whining are more difficult to handle.
- Don’t be defensive: Managers who can focus on the information and the resolution without getting defensive will find complaints less disruptive and cumbersome.
- Understand the facts: Look at the issue from all sides and ask the person to explain his or her view.
- Listen fully: Ask clarifying questions, empathize when appropriate and apologize for mistakes. Listen for what the person wants to happen next, because it is often reasonable and easy to accommodate requests.
- Acknowledge the person’s feelings: Saying things like, “I can see you are frustrated,” or “I understand this ordeal has been annoying to you,” will go a long way toward diffusing the complainer’s anger.
- Try to solve the problem or offer alternatives: This may seem like common sense, but many managers allow complaints to linger and go unresolved.
- Thank people for constructive complaints: Constructive complaints can help managers identify problems and address barriers. Listening to and thanking others for sharing complaints will strengthen relationships.
- Involve the right people: You may not be the best person to resolve a complaint and will want to bring in others to address the concern. This does not mean that you can wash your hands of the complaint!
- Provide the facts: Team members are more likely to gripe and groan about a decision they do not understand. Managers who take the time to explain decisions upfront prevent many complaints from occurring.
- Ask for complaints: Managers who ask for complaints will find that team members express their concerns more objectively and openly. It is a way to nip problems in the bud and solve problems before they are able to fester and grow.
- Prevent complaints: Open communication can go a long way toward preventing team member and peer complaints. Often, a complaint is really a second or third attempt to share and be heard.
Source: Management Craft