Being open to suggestions from your team is an important part of being a good leader. But don’t be bullied by whining complainers who always find fault, no matter what you do. They’re not interested in improving teamwork or performance in the workplace. They’re interested in feeling superior and in bullying and controlling you by getting you to try to please them.
To read the rest of this article from the Pacific Business News (Honolulu), see: Stop Critical, Complaining Bullies from Undermining Your Leadership http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/stories/2008/03/10/editorial4.html
For example, Claire is a dynamic manager who wants to resolve problems and get results through team effort. She asks for input and strives to incorporate it.
Heather was an unhappy employee who always found something to complain about. She was never pleased; nothing was ever good enough. She was demanding, abusive, nit-picky and delighted in pointing out when Claire had, once again, failed to please her.
No matter what Claire did, Heather found something to be angry about. She always had reasons and justifications for her criticism. Heather complained bitterly and encouraged the rest of the team to express their unhappiness and to harass Claire as well. Heather’s small clique also gossiped about and was disdainful of Claire’s efforts.
When Claire had accepted the idea that she should make Heather happy, she gave Heather control of the whole team.
Heather was a manipulative bully. She used her unhappiness to dominate Claire and the team. She was haughty, sarcastic and demeaning. She acted as if everyone’s job was to satisfy her every whim. She was like “the belle of the ball.” You can imagine her as the leader of a clique of snotty high school girls.
The first question most people have is, “Why didn’t anyone stop this long ago?” Usually, there are two reasons:
- As in Heather’s case, her previous manager was conflict-avoidant and had allowed Heather to control the team.
- Many managers naively believe that happy employees are always productive employees. These managers assume that if they give all employees what they want, they will build high morale and encourage teamwork. They think that employee satisfaction is the way to increase performance and elevate attitudes and behavior. Instead, they usually encourage a few selfish, spoiled brats to victimize the rest of the team.
Heather’s unhappiness, verbal abuse and negativity triggered a pattern in Claire that I call “self-bullying.” Claire assumed that if she were a better manager, Heather would be happy. Since Heather was unhappy, Claire thought she wasn’t good enough. Her self-doubt and self-questioning increased, and her confidence and self-esteem were eroded. She felt defeated.
With coaching, Claire stopped assuming that every one of Heather’s complaints was worth satisfying. She saw that Heather used her unhappiness and negativity to control people. Heather was like a bucket with no bottom. No matter how many times Claire did what Heather wanted, she’d never be able to fill the bucket. Heather’s unhappiness was not Claire’s fault. Heather wouldn’t be pleased, no matter what was done for her.
Learn what you can do to eliminate the high cost of low attitudes, behavior and performance.