Handling Complaining Employees

Complaining

Often times when I am delivering soft skills training to employees working at some large organization I find some of them strongly complaining about their work and the difficulties they are facing there. They complain about the workload, the lack of sufficient resources, the bad conduct of customers, their managers and even their own colleagues. Sometimes there is only one or two such complaining employees during training and sometimes there are many. When attempting to develop the skills of employees during the training, the complaining ones start to arise complaining about the difficult conditions they are facing at work.

Drowning

If the trainer gives way to such complaining employees they might turn the whole atmosphere of the training program into a bitter and negative one hindering any positive impact from the training. They would eat up and consume a lot of time from the training program and drain their own energy, the energy of their colleges and perhaps even the energy of the trainer himself. Therefore, the corporate training should prevent by all means such negative behavior from those participants to take over the training program and reduce it into nothing but a large avenue for venting out their frustration about difficulties they are facing at work.

There are several methods by which the corporate trainer can control and limit such negative and harmful behavior. Here is a list of some of those methods.

Release

One way to keep employee complaints in check is to allow participants at the beginning of the training to release the complaints they may have in an organized and controlled manner. This can be done using the think and listen technique. Participants are asked to pair up and express problems or difficulties they are facing at work that are making their work harder or preventing them from providing top performance. Then through a round of go round, the most pressing problems can be gathered from participants and written on the flip chart.

Giving all participants a chance to express their problems to their colleagues then to everyone in the training room and then documenting those problems in written form takes out a lot of steam from the complaining employees and allows them to relax during the rest of the training program. An alternative method for collecting employee problems is through the clustering technique.

Proactivity

In addition to allowing participants to express problems they are facing at work during the beginning of the training program, the trainer may also start by talking about the circle of influence and explain how successful people find solutions within their reach and carry them out while unsuccessful people just keep complaining and blame all their problems on other people or on external factors. Explaining this concept thoroughly by the aid of charting diagrams on the flip chart and giving examples through storytelling results in a total halt of complaints from employees attending the training.

Harsh Conditions

The trainer may also mention that it is the competent person who is able to perform well in difficult conditions and that if conditions were to be ideal then any employee with average skills would be able to perform well. Therefore, difficult conditions are actually a means by which highly competent employees can be distinguished.

Ground Rules

A further method by which a corporate trainer can stem the rush of employee complaints from the start of a training program is to include a slide at the beginning of the PowerPoint presentation in which he writes “We are not here today to complain about our work problems!” This can be considered as part of the ground rules and helps eliminate any such negative talk from participants during the training.

Appreciation

A trainer may also explain that we all as humans seek to gain the respect of and appreciation from others. The competent aim for acquiring that through their distinguished and exceptional performance while the incompetent attempt to gain it through complaining about their difficult conditions.

Conclusion

A competent corporate trainer is able to keep employee complaints about their work under control during the training by completely eliminating such complaints or by allowing participants to vent out such complaints in a controlled manner. This helps in maintaining a healthy positive atmosphere throughout the training program.

How else can you handle complaints from employees about their work during a training session?

Listening Skills of the Trainer

Listening Skills of Trainees and Trainer

In many soft skills training programs, such as communication skills training, the trainer works on developing the listening skills of trainees through various training activities one of which is the think and listen technique. It is even more essential that a trainer himself have exceptional communication skills on top of which are superior listening skills in order to perform well during any training program he is delivering.

Great listening skills are not a luxury but they are skills that any competent trainer cannot afford to do without. A competent trainer would make use of his exceptional listening skills in many occasions.

Buffering Multiple Trainee Questions

When a trainee asks a question then a second trainee asks another question and then a third asks yet another two or more questions a trainer with good listening skills would be able to listen to all those questions first and then start answering them in one go. This buffering of several questions in a row in the mind of the trainer allows him to link the answers of related questions with one another and provide the big picture in one continuous answer.

Sure providing such a combined answer for multiple trainee questions needs superior listening skills from the trainer. Using such question buffering technique also displays to participants the greatness of the trainer and the high professional level he has reached making them put even more trust in him and show even greater respect for him.

Absorbing the Agitated Trainee

Another case where superior listening skills would prove handy to the trainer is when one of the trainees attempts to provide a long passionate comment expressing his own opinion with vigor aiming at refuting something the trainer or another participant has been saying. If the trainer in such a case attempts to cut such participant short prematurely the trainee might become highly dissatisfied, may even hold a grudge, carry strong negative emotions and demonstrate a negative attitude throughout the rest of the training.

If, however, the trainer allowed such trainee to speak his heart out, while carefully listening to him and mentally analyzing what he is saying, the trainer would be able to let the steam out from such participant. This containment of the agitated trainee by the trainer can even result in highly positive emotions building up in the heart of that participant, towards the trainer and the training as a whole, which may show up by the end of the training program.

After such trainee has completed his long and passionate comment, the trainer can then start giving his comment on it in a calms and to-the-point manner. This would never have been possible had the trainer lacked superior listening skills.

Conclusion

Listening skills are one of the most important communication skills that a trainer must master way before attempting to improve them in his or her trainees.

What other training situations can you think of in which a trainer would benefit from having strong listening skills?