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We have a problem- the words any business owner hates to hear. Four small words that can cause anxiety and confusion, especially when they refer to employee complaints. Here’s one simple idea that can help you remain calm and be productive when faced with employee troubles.

Complaints: we always hurt the ones we love&ldots;..

This old song title offers sage wisdom for you as a business owner. Employees that take the time and risk to share their concerns with you are actually expressing their interest in your company and their confidence in your abilities to fix the problem. Really. Otherwise, why bother to complain at all?

Most employees will not complain directly. But they will eventually take indirect action either by spreading their disappointment with other employees or leaving your company at the first opportunity or both. Your business deserves better.

What can you do?

Embrace and encourage employee complaints. Below is one idea for gathering their concerns.

Host small, informal gatherings for employees.

With some careful selection and preparation, you’ll get off to a good start.

 1.  Select small groups (between 5-7 people) that share the same status (all supervisors or assistants, etc).
 2.  Remind people to be non-judgmental about each other and ideas.
 3.  Be ready to use some of the ideas.Action speaks louder than words.
 4.  Communicate the group’s progress and results. Success is contagious.

Good questions to ask:

 1.  If you were boss, what would you change tomorrow (besides salaries)?
 2.  What’s the one policy, practice, rule that just doesn’t make sense to you? And why?
 3.  Name three things that could help you do your job better. And why?
 4.  What should we do to build a better team?

Along with some good ideas, you’ll glean information about employee issues and create a community where members are encouraged to talk about their frustrations in a productive way. Then, your employees will be ‘singing’ your praises.

Kisima Enterprises, Inc.To signup for our gratis newsletter, visit or call 617 553-0423.

This Business article was written by Dina Beach Lynch on 2/11/2005