How to Deal With Your Team Members’ Complaints

Sometimes leadership in the context of an organization may seem to consist of extinguishing fires and dealing with people’s issues. Leadership is much more than that. However, dealing with people’s concerns is a big part of leaders’ responsibilities.

When you lead a team, you must be prepared to have to deal with your team members’ complaints. Team members complain about their work, colleagues, tools (or lack thereof), environment, organizational policies, benefits packages, etc. At times, they can even complain about you.

That they complain doesn’t mean that they’re complainers—although some of your team members may be. Some of those complaints are founded, and you must address them. That’s your role as the leader. If you don’t address your team’s complaints, these will come back to haunt you.

You’re not powerless; whatever the complaint, there are things you can do to promote resolution.

1. Listen

Listening to your team members is crucial. You must take the time to listen to your team members’ complaints and seek to understand what they’re trying to convey. Even when a complaint doesn’t seem valid or the team member is notorious for her complaining, you must make every effort to listen and understand they’re perspective.

To get to the heart of the complaint, you may need to ask for clarifications and paraphrase your team member’s message to confirm that you understand their point-of-view.

Listening to your team’s complaints begins the resolution process.

2. Empower

When a team members share their concerns with you, they often play a central role in the situation. As the leader, you should seek to empower them to part of the solution to their issue. Your team members must understand that they’re not powerless and that they can help make the situation better.

For example, if someone struggles to work with a coworker. Before you intervene, they should have at least attempted to resolve the issue with the person directly. Often, that’s not the case. At the first sign of conflict or misunderstanding, they come running to you, and they want to fix it. And if you step in right away, you rob your team member from an opportunity to grow. Instead, coach them on how to address the matter with the person directly first and have them report back to you.

3. Educate

Often, team members complain about things they don’t understand. In particular, often, they don’t understand the rationale behind a decision, policy, or procedure. These types of complaints are an opportunity for you, as the leader, to educate your team member.

A team member’s complaint may reveal that they lack contextual or background information, which you can provide. No need to get upset; educate them. And don’t be surprised if you have to repeat the same messages over and over again.

When you have to handle complaints from your team members, start by listening. Then, seek to empower them to be part of the solution and, when applicable, educate them by providing them with the contextual information they need to get a clearer picture of the situation.

About The Author

Vladimir Elie

I help people learn and apply success principles and strategies so that they can get the results they want in life.