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Complaining the right way: A management lesson from Tom Hanks


In this scene, Tom Hanks, or more accurately Captain Miller, teaches us an important management lesson. Never, and I mean never, complain to your employees.


In an office, people often like to complain, gripe, vent, etc. Sometimes they have legitimate concerns and sometimes it’s just letting off steam. As a manager, it can be very enticing to join in the mix and throw some more wood on the fire. Generally, this never has the affect managers are looking for. Rather than endear themselves to the team it makes the team question their leadership abilities. After all, why are they the ones complaining if they are a manager. Shouldn’t they be able to “fix” whatever it is they are complaining about?


Part of being a leader and a manager is taking responsibility for company decisions even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. That doesn't mean you need to lie about your stance on a particular issue. You can say something like, "Personally I thought we should do X, but I can certainly understand and appreciate why the company wants to do Y. This way you come off sounding genuine, and not like a pouty child.


It’s commendable to take a stance on an issue and voice an opinion, however, once a decision has been made, your job as a manager is to make sure it's executed to the best of your ability, regardless of whether you agree with it. Any public display of disobedience or complaining about it, will only lower your status as a leader among your team.


This is all aside from the fact that complaints and negativity can create a toxic and sour workplace which isn't fun for anybody. Managers must do their best to foster an environment with positive energy. But that’s a topic for another day.


So, if you have something to get off your chest, always gripe up!

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