Category Archives: Change

10 Techniques to Better Handle Staff Complaints and Grievances

Handling a staff complaint or grievance can be one of the most challenging things a new team leader or supervisor can do. While these situations can be testing, they can also provide one of the most personally satisfying management experiences.

To assist you to better handle an informal complaint or a formal grievance on a one-to-one basis, or with a group, use these ten basic techniques:


  1. Be a good listener: Never interrupt when team members are talking, even if you disagree with the opinions expressed. Complaints often dissolve and resolve themselves when people simply have a chance to talk about them.
  2. Ask questions: Your questions indicate interest and a desire for more information. When you ask open ended questions such as, “Why do you think that happened?” you may uncover underlying causes or related problems. When you ask good questions, you communicate that you are not unfairly pre-judging people or situations.
  3. Do not argue: Present any information you have in a persuasive manner rather than an argumentative one. Arguing builds resistance and can make employees more determined to get their way regardless of the facts. Asking questions can be an effective tool for disarming a potential argument. Your point of view is more persuasive when you refuse to be drawn into an argument.
  4. Make sure you understand: Some people have difficulty expressing themselves and this can be even more difficult if they are stressed or emotional. Use all of your questioning and listening skills to make sure that you fully understand their position. Restate, summarise and ask additional questions to make sure you understand their point of view.
  5. Treat all employees with respect: Ridicule or comments that minimise a person’s concerns are powerful and devastating. They have no place in the management and leadership roles of today. If you attempt to make someone else feel foolish, you destroy the lines of communication and trust. Let others save face and retreat gracefully. Criticising and belittling people in front of others should also be avoided as this also destroys communication, trust and respect.
  6. Let the person know when to expect a response from you: Many times, the problem can be settled on the spot. However, if it will take time to resolve, establish a time-frame for your action and response.
  7. Gather the facts: If you are unable to make a decision during the meeting, investigate what the team member has said, check the situation, refer to employment agreements or other relevant documents and if appropriate, consult with higher management before making a final decision.
  8. Make a decision: Once you make a decision (even if it is unpopular), stick to it firmly unless new evidence that deserves consideration is presented.
  9. Explain your decision: If your decision is distasteful to the team member, take the time to explain it and answer any questions. Team members may not agree and may appeal your decision, but they will respect you for your stand.
  10. Thank the team member: Express your appreciation for the person’s willingness to communicate openly about problems. This encourages even more open communication in the future.

A legitimate complaint can signal not only discontent in the workplace, but it can also help to shine the light on serious infractions at your office. Psychologically, listening to your employees and addressing their concerns can be great for your company culture. It also shows them respect and fosters a sense of pride and accountability in their work. These benefits easily justify the implementation of a useful and effective system for addressing employee complaints. 

LMA also offers the DIY Leadership Analysis which can be utilised to understand leadership issues that your senior staff might have.  Click here to take the analysis.

When Did You Last Take Time Out to Balance Your ‘Work Life’ Scales?

What happens when work and family commitments collide? What gives? What prevails?

Over recent years, an increasing number of high profile public figures (including CEOs, MPs, sporting figures, celebrities and others) have elected to disengage from their daily activities to seek better balance or fulfil other commitments that have taken on greater significance in their lives – commitments often involving family, partners, children and friends.

The importance of balance in one’s life cannot be overstated. The adage, ‘all work and no play makes John a dull boy (or Jenny a dull girl)’ remains as relevant today as ever. But the notion of work-life balance is deeper than this simple saying suggests.

Balance provides the opportunity for individuals to analyse and review the extent to which they are a total person, a rounded individual, productive AND content.

An understanding organisation, an empathetic boss, a supportive co-worker – all are increasingly demonstrating that our workplace has changed forever in response to a very different view of work and what it means in our lives.

Stephen Covey, author of First Things First, offers these suggestions for balancing your life and work:

  • Spend less time on unimportant activities, no matter how urgent they may seem
  • Don’t be a deadline addict – someone who procrastinates until the last moment, but seems to thrive on the adrenaline rush they get when racing to the finish line. In this process they neglect important life roles.
  • Work effectively and plan to meet deadlines by doing the work at the proper time.
  • Consider what people will say about you on your 86th birthday. Then, decide what you want them to say.
  • Find ways to make the favourable description of your life come true.

LMA courses explore the importance of work in the context of other aspects of our lives through the ‘Total Person Concept’ – a visual expression of the multi-dimensional but highly integrated elements of our lives. Through a guided activity, participants are able to prioritise what’s important to them, identify where they are spending insufficient time or focus in one or more of the important aspects of their lives and set new goals to correct the imbalance.

Ultimately though, individuals must take charge of their own lives. It’s their choice whether or not to make work-life balance a priority for themselves.

Look out for the signs of a lack of balance in yourself, and your people, and be prepared to flex and provide support to meet the needs of those who are seeking greater balance in their lives.

Lead by example – walk the talk AND walk the walk

All too often leaders say one thing and do another – and then in the same breath they ask their people to do as they say, not as they do. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you’re walking the talk…

1) Clearly identify and document the attitudes and behaviours you desire and are prepared to model to the organisation – establish what walking the talk properly looks like.

2) Establish the situations and opportunities that exist for these attitudes and behaviours to be showcased and reinforced – maximise opportunities to walk the talk.

3) Take the time to plan communications, interactions and to make the most of opportunities that present themselves – be prepared and ready to walk the talk.

4) Document decisions and actions taken to enable ready reference at a later time to enhance consistency – keep good records of walking the talk to ensure consistency.

5) Don’t take the easiest way out or the way that ruffles the fewest feathers – be willing to walk the hard walk and talk the hard talk to get the desired outcome.

6) Fulfill your own expectations and promises and be true to your word through your actions – follow-up when you’ve walked the talk to make sure everything is as you’d like it.

Leading by example means reflecting on actions and behaviours and asking – “Are these the attitudes and behaviours I want my people to exhibit in order to achieve optimum results?”

LMA’s complimentary and confidential DIY Leadership Management Competency Analysis is a great tool to brush up on your current situation as a leader.  It can be found here.