By Steve Moran

Let’s start with the truth: There are some complainers who will never be happy. They could have a one-hour workweek and earn a million dollars a year, and their only commentary would be to complain that the job was too hard or the work conditions were too terrible or the hours made no sense at all. This article is not about that kind of complainer.

The Complainer—A Story

A friend was recently telling me about a very difficult person in her organization. This person complained all the time, was never happy, no one liked him. A few weeks later, with great glee, she told me that person quit. She offered up that, as a final act of being difficult, this person sent a long resignation letter to HR that was a laundry list of ridiculous, unfair complaints.

She even offered to show me the letter (yeah, I know she should not have sent it to me, but it was someone I didn’t know, and actually in an industry outside senior living).

I read through the letter and came away with a very different impression. The complaints were completely legitimate (confirmed by my friend), and I could see why this disgruntled employee was unhappy. If I had been in his shoes I would have been too.

Your Best Asset

If this person had been embraced—if the suggestions had been considered, and changes made where appropriate—that organization would have been better for having a complainer. Instead, they have an attitude of “good riddance” and are more entrenched in their dysfunction than ever.

Most of the time when people are complaining, at least early in the process, those complaints are born on the wings of hope that things will get better, because they have a vision for you and your organization of what better looks like.

Those complainers can help you see things you would otherwise miss. They can help you find new and better ways of doing things.

Listen to them, adopt the things that make sense, and that employee will become your biggest most loyal fan. Don’t get me wrong, they won’t stop complaining. But what they will do is complain with a better, more positive attitude. And they will make your organization better, I promise.