Working Wounded: Stop Workplace Whining

Avoid blowups at the office through constructive ranting.

ByBob Rosner

April 3, 2008 — -- Dear WOUNDED: I'm tired of employees whining and all their complaining about work.

ANSWER: In 2004, Tainan City, Taiwan, had a problem: a decomposing 50-ton dead whale on its beach. When they moved the big fish for an autopsy, the crowd swelled and so did the gas in the rotting carcass. I fear you've already anticipated where this is headed -- "thar she blows." Blubber and entrails covered everything and everyone.

Just as pressure built inside the whale until it exploded into a fleshy fiasco, you've heard the first pressure gurgles in your office. If your office blows, the fallout could be even messier.

A study by In Touch asked employees, "Why don't you speak up at work?" More than 1 in 4 said they remain quiet because "there isn't a good way to speak up" or "management doesn't care." I've outlined below three dos to reduce pressure at work and have everyone engaged in the problem-solving process. For more, check out Rant, Repair, Rave on

Rant. We know what you're thinking, "Let my people rant at work. Are you nuts?" Trust us, they already are ranting! Why not move it past murmuring whispers and give them a safe way to voice their concerns and challenges? After years of counseling people in the Rant technique, we find it works best when rants are kept under two minutes. Another important guideline here is "do no harm." Employees should be truthful in their rants, but not hurtful.

Repair. This is your own consulting firm -- specialists who intimately know how to get things done in your company -- your employees. You'll see the relief in people's faces when they hear a co-worker say, "I had that problem and here's how I addressed it." The key here is that when people come up with their own solutions, you don't need to sell them on buy-in. Finally, once you enter the Repair zone there is a "no return to ranting" policy.

Rave. When was the last time you celebrated at work? If you Ranted and Repaired right, you just altered your office. Now that's a time to Rave! Turn the tide of Monday morning work dread into a rave where people celebrate their success. Raving also gives permission to check progress and brag about your results.

If the 50 workers loading that whale had created a "blow hole" for venting, a blood bath would have been "prevented." Ironically all the technology at work actually reduces collaboration and brainstorming.

When you give people room to Rant and Repair you've installed a pressure-release valve that works. You'll be amazed at the energy created when people have a structure to work together to solve their own problems.

Use Rant, Repair, Rave to create a workplace where people will have a whale of a time at work.

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