Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dealing with workplace babies

I was send this article- I think it is very interesting
"A baby is an inestimable blessing and bother."
Mark Twain
By Michael Masterson

What do you do with a chronic complainer, an employee who is always
dumping his problems on you? Please note: I'm not talking about the
industrious individual who has a rare and significant problem that forces
him to come to you. I'm talking about whiners.
The ceaseless complainer takes your time. He steals your energy. And he
diverts your attention. If you try to help, you discover that the problems
seem to escalate. The more attention you pay to him, the more things he
finds to complain about.
Your impulse to help him is human, but troublesome. It is based on some
bad but commonly held ideas. For example:
The employee's job is to show up in the morning, willing to work. Your job
is to figure out what he should do, show him how to do it, and motivate him
to do it with enthusiasm.
There is something in the relationship of boss/employee that requires
caretaking. You are in a superior position. You make more money. You have
more power. You have control over some aspects of your employee's life.
This creates for you a responsibility. If he needs help, you should be able
to provide it. This notion is the workplace equivalent of noblesse oblige.

If you support such notions, you will get such behavior. The chronic
complainer will show up in the morning. But with a bagful of problems.
Unless and until you can solve them, he won't feel like he has to work very
hard. He'll do what he's asked, but no more.
Besides being misguided by the improper thinking described above, you may
be tempted to take care of such a person because you are challenged by the
problems he brings you. What is more fun than fixing something someone else
It's fun - but don't do it. If you make it a habit, you make two mistakes
simultaneously: You waste your valuable time by taking it away from a more
profitable endeavor, and you reinforce the nonproductive behavior of your
According to the experts, workplace babies are caused by workplace
mommies. If you resist the temptation to nurture and suckle each
employee-child who comes to you, you'll do yourself and your business a big
"People become babies because we let them. They'll kick up a fuss so we'll
do whatever they want," says Hank Trisler, author of No Bull Selling and No
Bull Sales Management. And Larry Schulz, author of Selling When You Hate to
Sell, says, "A child is quick to blame someone else. It's up to the manager
to point the employee in the right direction."
You don't have to be rude to the complainer. But you do have to let him
know that his complaints will not work with you. Listen briefly, but don't
indulge him. The main thing is to give the chronic complainer the message
that business is not about him and his problems. Let him know that the
solutions must come from him.
In the sales arena, most objections are merely camouflage for a deeper
problem: The complainer is afraid of something in the sales process. He
masks his fear by mentioning objections that he hears - and the objections
never end. The real problem is that he hasn't the guts to close the sale,
but he's afraid to say so.
"Lies are convenient because they keep [salespeople] out of action," Steve
Chandler, author of 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back, told Selling Power
magazine. "But a good sales manager can point out these falsehoods and
allow someone's self-esteem to keep climbing."
I've run into my share of chronic complainers over the years, and I have
tried all kinds of ways to respond to them. Basically, nothing works except
a firm and direct reorientation. You have to let them know that your job is
not to sympathize with their troubles but to demand and receive performance
from them. Ask them if they can understand that. If they cannot, fire them.
If they can, tell them very directly that the next time they have a problem
they need to do the following things before coming to you:
Ascertain the real problem. You don't want to waste time and energy fixing
situations that aren't really broken.
Define the problem as precisely as possible. The finer the definition, the
easier it will be to discover a solution.
Come up with at least three possible solutions.
Decide which is the best solution, and explain that decision.
Make this a formal procedure and enforce it. You may get a little
grumbling at first, but before long your complainer will be trained to
solve his own problems, and you'll hear from him less and less as time goes
If you are lucky, he will retrain himself to be good at overcoming
objections. This will make him a much stronger salesperson or problem
Dinner tonight is crumbed porktjops and salad

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