As employees, we have a list of grievances – or demands, if you prefer – that we carry in our heart and in our head at all times.
- No one ever asks me what I think.
- I never get to work on the big projects.
- The executives don’t even know who I am!
- My boss is constantly checking on me. Just leave me alone and let me do my job.
Complaining is the lifeblood of the American worker. If we didn’t have work to complain about, we’d be forced to deal with something else. Like our unhealthy addiction to Laffy Taffy (don’t judge me).
So let’s say you had the opportunity to speak up. And I’m talking about a leadership team who really wants to hear your feedback and input (not some snarky attempt to check off the “listen to your people” box).
Someone finally asks you what you think. Someone looks to you for some big ideas. Someone gives you free reign to propose a solution to all the problems you’ve been pointing out for so long.
Are you ready to respond? Because you may only get one shot at this.
It can hurt your credibility when you’re not able to rise to the occasion. Responding from a place of emotion rather than giving specific examples of what has happened that negatively impacts the organization, the focus is no longer on the issues – it’s squarely on you. And if you don’t respond AT ALL, you risk never being asked for your opinion again.
No one is looking for a perfectly formed 12 point plan to address the issues. Your leaders are just asking you to articulate your concerns in a way that shows you have thought about the problem…you know, beyond how much it impacts you personally. Leaders KNOW it impact you. That’s why you keep bringing it up. So what are you gonna do about it?
If you want a voice and have a say in formulating a solution to the issues your team faces, try the following:
- Self-monitor: Take note of how often you complain and how you might be perceived by others. What others might agree with in the beginning might become background noise in the long run.
- Listen to others: Issues may not impact others the same way they impact you. And others may lend perspective that you don’t have. So hush up and see what they have to say.
- Stick to the facts: Emotions can run high, particularly if a group feels like no one has been listening to them up to this point. Leaders tend to shut down the instant employees argue emotion rather than factual impact.
- Be honest without being mean: Leaders want candor. They don’t want anger. Don’t let the message be lost in the way you deliver it. Attack the issue, not the person. You CAN be respectful and be frank.
- Be solution-focused: We all vent. A lot. It’s pretty easy to point out all the things that are wrong. Leaders ask for your opinion because they want to hear from the people on the front-lines. Use your day-to-day knowledge to suggest solutions no one in leadership would think of.
So the next time you complain that no one ever listens to you, don’t be surprised if leadership starts asking for your opinion.
Will you be ready?