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A good manager seeks out and listens to complaints.
Complaints reveal priorities. When someone complains about a problem in the workplace, what they are really revealing is something that matters to them.
However, it's not enough to just listen to complaints and respond. A good manager is able to help people turn their complaints into commitments. In addressing this subject, Kegan and Lahey use the example of a person who complains that they are kept out of the loop on important projects. Turning this into a commitment resulted in the statement "I believe in open and candid communication."
Next, a good manager encourages people to ask how their OWN actions contribute to the problem. Phrasing it in a positive manner, "What are you doing or not doing, that is keeping your commitment from being more fully realized?" (Kegan and Lahey, 87).
Lastly, a good manager helps people overcome hesitation about making personal changes. "If you imagine doing the opposite of the undermining behavior, do you detect in yourself discomfort, worry or vague fear?" "By engaging in this undermining behavior, what worrisome outcome are you committed to preventing?" (88)
Managers who respond to complaints in this way will unlock the potential of their employees, and their company.
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There's a fast, easy, and (almost) free way to improve customer service, job satisfaction, and efficiency/accuracy of your employees.
Ready for it?
Simply share pictures and stories of your customers, clients, and staff. Studies show that radiologists (who usually see only x-rays, not patients) spent more time on and gave more accurate diagnoses when a patient's photo was attached to x-rays. Similarly, Ritz-Carlton asks employees to spend a few minutes each day sharing how they went the extra mile for customers, with the result that customer service improved. And speaking from my own experience working at a media agency, when I received an email from a listener or viewer of a product I was working on, my next set of scripts was always a little more creative.
It doesn't take much to put a human face or story to the work your people do. And it is worth the effort. If you need help brainstorming an effective way to do this at your company, I have some creative problem solving techniques that can help.