Employees complain to HR because they hope we can fix it. Sometimes it’s more than hope… they KNOW it’s our job to solve the problem. And it’s easy for us to be drawn in. After all, HR is ALSO supposed to be empathetic and supportive and many of us buy into that idea.
So stop. Yes you can and should hear the complaint and there likely is something on. But before you make the determination, get all the facts. And don’t get drawn in personally!
I loved this conversation with Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard and Dr. Anne Dranitsaris of Caliber Leadership Systems because I’ve fielded many employee complaints. Every single time, it feels like I am walking a knife’s edge. I fear making the employee more angry (and at me) or that I am throwing my client under the bus. Or just that I should have been able to make the employee feel better, but I didn’t.
Anne and Heather have a few areas of expertise and one of them is definitely handling complaints! And their advice is pragmatic… they’re not fully buying into to the utopian messages you see in social media:
🤷🏻♀️ The employee will tell a story that works in their favour. Could be 100% true, but let’s be honest: Do you tell the whole objective truth when you complain?
📖 Most often there’s far more history and context.
😢 Don’t apologize!
When you sense this happening, pull back. Don’t fall in and rescue.
I felt better after this. Maybe you will too!