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I Like Tom Petty. I Don’t Like Employees Being Petty

Sometimes workers have a legitimate concern, issue or complaint. Sometimes they are just whining.

Recently, I had an employee come and speak with me regarding her supervisor.  This was her complaint: “I don’t like the way he speaks to me.”

Me: “OK – give me an example.”

Her: “Well, I was working on a project then he came over and told me I needed to do something else.” 

Me: “Hmmm, so I am not sure what the problem is.”   

Her: “I think he just asked me to do something else because he needs to act like he is the big boss.” 

Me: “Or maybe he was prioritizing the work and decided he wanted you to focus on what needed to get done first.” 

Her: “No, no he just wants to make me know he is in charge, he was like ‘I need you to do this instead’ and I know he didn’t, and he said it with an attitude.” 

Me: “But maybe he actually did need you to work on the other item and he was under pressure so what you perceived as an attitude was just him trying to get things done, just something to consider.”  

Cue the music, “Well I won't back down, no I won't back down. You could stand me up at the gates of hell. But I won't back down.”

Here is another “critical” issue I have addressed, more than once:

Employee: “So and so came back late from lunch two times this week.” 

Me: “Thanks for letting me know.” 

Employee: “Well, what are you going to do about it?” 

Me: “I will take the appropriate steps.” 

Employee: “Yeah right.”

Cue the music, “Listen, it don't really matter to me baby. You believe what you want to believe…” 

The fact is I spoke with the person’s manager who was aware of both instances. She also rolled her eyes and said it was really not the other employees’ concern. I went to my office and thought to myself, cue the music, “Oh don't let it kill you baby, don't let it get to you. Don't let it kill you baby, don't let it get to you.”

Before you share something that you don’t like at work ask yourself is it really something that should and must be addressed or are you just whining? If it is the latter, cue the music, “Don’t do me like that.” 

Peter Parisi July 08, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I could see how your response to an employee's complaint could be off-putting. Perhaps more effective communication on the part of the supervisor would hae simply put these matters to rest. Clearly, complaining to Human Resources in these instances was an effort in futility.
Tino Sinapi July 09, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Lowering The Bar... whats your point?
Richard July 09, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Fluff. And yes, the title is silly but so is the article.
Mike Lipowski July 09, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Actually the article speaks directly to the problem with people today. Instead of focusing on the job they've been given (and should appreciate that they even have a job in today's economy) they think it's their job to police the company. Don't like what's going on around you in the office? Leave...quit. No one is holding a gun to your head and in all liklihood you are replaceable.
Aidan July 09, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Bingo. Got a job? Good for you ... do it well and worry about YOUR performance.
Richard Brown July 09, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Yes, some employees occasionally whine (so do managers); they are human. But many employee complaints are legitimate. Since many companies are trying to save on labor costs in this tight economy, those companies are short-staffed and their employees feel overworked, stressed and underappreciated. Recounting a couple of silly situations discredits the vast majority of employees who try to be hardworking and responsible, but experience a work environment that can make it difficult.
Smitty Chesterfield July 09, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Oofa!!! After reading this article, I wanted to go "Free Fallin' " out my window. I hope your keyboard has a "Breakdown" next time you try to write an article.
Rob McGunn July 09, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Cue Shakespeare's Macbeth "It is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury. Signifying nothing"
Kirsten Berger July 09, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Instead of dismissing the employee's complaints as petty, maybe you should take some time to find out what is really going on. In the first example, this employee's supervisor may be a micro-managing control freak who does this on a regular basis, whether or not there is an actual need to prioritize. In the second example, the person taking the long lunch may have been gone for 2 or 3 hours, and may have prevented others from getting work done if they needed to communicate with the long-luncher. These employees may not have clearly articulated their concerns but given how you responded, they probably got intimidated and got flustered. Way to go contributing to a "hostile work environment" And to the person recommended the disgruntled employees leave the job and go elsewhere: given the health insurance is tied to having a job, one can't just leave unless another job with health insurance is lined up. Given this economy, that's not very likely and most people will stick with a horrible job because they need the health insurance.
Scott Croft July 09, 2012 at 09:24 PM
The title was very creative. It got my attention. Why all the hostility here? Geesh, this is a little story about management practices. nothing else. it was fine. Lighten up people.
Scott Croft July 09, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Kindly note this was an opinion piece, not the lead story for Evening News with Walter Kronkite. I like the dialog concept. It was different. If you want to just bash Patch, go right ahead.... I'm just wondering if it is so "trite," why would one want to keep on reading its articles and posting comments?
Lisa Stamatelos July 10, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Thank you!
Lisa Stamatelos July 10, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Ouch! But I do appreciate your creativity.
Royal July 10, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Wish there was someway we could appreciate your (creativity Lisa. Maybe find a interesting ghost writer, who can share worthwhile well written experiences.
Buddy July 10, 2012 at 01:07 PM
I agree with you Scott. If you thought that a restaurant served horrible food, why would you ever go back?
RivertownsMark July 10, 2012 at 06:28 PM
The person who repeatedly complains obviously has an axe to grind. I don't like reading the NY Post: that means I don't log on every morning to read it so I can complain about it. I just stopped reading the Post. This isn't your only choice for news.
Theresa July 10, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of being a supervisor gets this piece.
WilliamTell July 10, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Maybe because some of us are curious what others have to say and we also still have STANDARDS.

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