This year my Mother’s Day gift was to meet Lynda Carter, the Wonder Woman from my childhood. Do you remember her invisible plane or “Lasso of Truth” that forced others to tell the truth? Wouldn’t that lasso be handy at times?
My friend Elizabeth and I, with several hundred others, listened to Lynda sing and answer questions. After her performance, hundreds of exhausted fans waited for a picture with the star. That’s when Lynda’s team displayed super-hero efforts.
Like a well-run amusement park, we received instructions while waiting in line. Also, there were processes to help guests move effectively and safely through the experience. When the time came to meet Lynda, people were told to place all items (purses, bags, souvenirs, etc.) on a table staffed by security personnel. Before entering the room, instructions were given not to speak with Lynda. One fan tried to give her a hug. “No,” he was told. “No touching, no hugs.”
When you received a nod, you walked forward, stood next to Lynda, a picture was taken, and you quickly exited the room. Fortunately, Lynda broke her “no talking” rule by complimenting Elizabeth on her sequined shirt. Outrageously I let her know that my name is also Linda but with an “i.” Pictures taken, we retrieved our belongings. As we discussed the experience, a security professional shook his head. He asked us to “keep things quiet because Lynda prefers things to be calm.”
Extreme security measures? Maybe. But Lynda’s staff knows keeping her safe and maintaining a calm environment helps her perform well. You may not have similar security measures available to avoid energy drainers and keep your world calm. However, you will find the super power necessary to negotiate for a positive environment once you learn the expense and damage that drama creates at work.
Ten Business Reasons to Stop Complainers
Complainers do more damage than you might think to your organization and work environment. Ten compelling business reasons to prevent negative behavior were identified while researching my book Stop Complainers and Energy Drainers. As a leader, which of these reasons pose the biggest risk to you and your team?
- The cost
- Negative effect and loss of good employees
- Legal ramifications
- Environmental infection
- Signal of problem or mental illness
- Your sanity
- Business reputation
- Complainers’ potential
- Counterproductive strategy
- The right thing to do
Reason 1: The Cost
Seventy-eight percent of people report a loss of at least 3-to-6 hours each week because of Complainers. At a minimum, that translates into 1-to-2 months spent every year for every employee who spends time dealing with Complainers and draining situations rather than focusing on “real work” that produces results!
Reason 2: Negative Effect and Loss of Good Employees
If work drama is not addressed, you risk losing productive contributors. At least 11 percent of people left a job because they couldn’t work with a Complainer.
Reason 3: Legal Ramifications
Employers have a legal duty to provide a safe workplace that is free from illegal discrimination, harassment, and unsafe work conditions. Disregarding complaints about Complainers puts a company at risk for judgments, liens, and legal fees totaling thousands of dollars.
Reason 4: Environmental Infection
Work environments are a delicate ecosystem, and chronic Complainers infect their peers with their negativity and pessimism. When you address your energy drainers effectively, you eliminate one reason your high performers leave.
Reason 5: Signal of Problem or Mental Illness
Complaining may be a sign of a major change to personal, family, financial, or health status. Persistent complaining, unstable moods, and erratic behavior can be signs of substance abuse or a more serious mental illness. Conversations about behaviors can influence employees to seek help in the form of coaching, counseling, and/or treatment.
Reason 6: Your Sanity
Working alongside a chronically negative Complainer disrupts your life and isn’t good for your health. Doing another person’s job or coping with his/her personal issues is exhausting. Being an encouraging colleague does not mean you must attempt to fix every bit of drama in another person’s life.
Reason 7: Business Reputation
Complainers can drive away your business. Customers tell others when they receive a good customer experience. However, give them a bad customer experience, and they will let even more people know.
Reason 8: Complainers’ Potential
If you manage them correctly, some Complainers learn better ways to communicate, handle stress, and be assertive. Some of them may choose to transform into productive contributors.
Reason 9: Counterproductive Strategy
If Complainers choose to stop whining, criticizing, and creating work drama, their passion and energy can be redirected to problem solving, innovation, and contributing to positive change.
Reason 10: The Right Thing to Do
Good leaders hold people accountable for their commitments, their work quality, and their professional behavior. Complainers may choose to perform up to standards, or they may elect to quit. Both choices can be good solutions.
Positively negotiating work drama is a legitimate super power!
P.S. Wonder how your leaders can gain the ability to stop unproductive and negative behavior? Please ask about my speaking at your conference, workshop, or event!