Many employees and managers whine and then cannot understand why they are not moving up in an organization. They obviously do not realize that complaining creates the impression that the complainer sees himself or herself as nothing more than a victim. No club operator wants to promote an employee who does not take the initiative to resolve a situation but instead chooses just to complain about it. In addition, a whining employee is a high-maintenance employee—and an employee that many people may view as being less productive, less dependable and more trouble than they are worth. Why promote or reward complainers who sap the energy out of those around them? Instead, why not promote employees who bring positive energy to the team and cause far less aggravation?
Chronic complainers are not the kind of employees your business needs. Allowing the complaining to continue can cause that negative attitude to migrate to other employees. Club operators should ensure that their chronic complainers know that a relentless cycle of whining is detrimental to their career. So whether it is about long hours, tough bosses, annoying co-workers or compensation, they either need to bite their tongue or take action to resolve the issue.
That does not mean that complaints and constructive criticism do not have their place in any business. Your employees just need to understand the difference and take steps to resolve situations where they can. It may require that they reframe their thinking. Here are some ways that they (and perhaps you) can reframe their thinking in some common areas of concern:
Compensation. People who are unhappy with their salary can ask for a raise, but they must make sure that they can show their boss how they are bringing more value to the company. That may mean that they first must channel more energy into becoming more valuable to the company and to their boss. If that is not something they want to do, then they must put their energy into finding another job that pays more.
Bad boss. For people who have a bad boss, they can meet with him or her privately and objectively state their concerns in a respectful manner. The objective would be to show the boss how handling situations a bit differently could help him or her be more effective with the existing team. If that idea does not sound appealing, then they can either just grin and bear the situation or they will have to quit.
Feeling unappreciated. People who feel unappreciated often feel that way because they need a lot of praise and are not getting it. They need to reframe their thinking to realize that their self-worth comes from the work that they do, not from the recognition of others. If that knowledge still is not enough, they should try becoming more of a cheerleader for others, including their boss. Sometimes, when one person starts handing out the praise, it catches on. If neither of those options work, they either just need to live with less praise or find another job where perhaps the boss will show more appreciation.
Annoying customers or co-workers. Remember that with no customers, you have no business. All employees—even the annoying ones—bring something to the table. People who have an annoying co-worker need to figure out what that co-worker brings to the business so they can appreciate that person better. If that still does not help, then it is best to talk with the co-worker in a non-threatening and respectful manner. The response of the annoying co-worker may change how they view that person or the conversation may lead the annoying co-worker to change his or her behavior.
After 35 years of managing clubs, I have come to the conclusion that whining does not accomplish anything. It affects not only the person making the complaints but those around them and reduces effectiveness and productivity in your business. Take some time to evaluate how you and your staff handle grievances at work and consider how any whiners might shift from being a whiner to being a problem-solver. By doing so, the environment at your facility will improve, and your whiner should become more valuable to your business.
Herb Lipsman is chief operating officer of Houston Oaks Country Club & Family Sports Retreat in Hockley, TX. He also has been a consultant in the industry, specializing in design, development and operation of upscale facilities.