If They Aren’t Complaining, You Have a Problem: How Employee Complaints Reflect Your Company Culture

In the military there used to be an informal rule, if their troops weren’t complaining about something, then there was a problem. If your staff isn’t talking to you, if they aren’t registering compliments or criticisms, then you have a company culture problem. They have adjusted to the belief that you don’t want to hear their input.

That you don’t value them beyond their work production.

This isn’t a good thing.

Effective Company Culture Requires Open Lines Of Communication

If you want a dynamic operation, a company that is responsive to both the marketplace and internally, you need to have frequent and honest conversations with your employees. Nobody can see the big picture from all angles, and nobody can catch all of the small issues that occur in a company. Likewise, one person can’t find all of the good things happening inside a company.

The best way to get the big picture of your company is to get the input from as many of your employees as possible. You should solicit their input on everything from their daily workflow to how they think things could be improved companywide.

So, how do you establish that type of communication? Yes, you could appoint one person from each department and have them act as a spokesperson for the other employees, but then you’ll only be getting the condensed opinions of people. And, you’ll be getting them from one person.

The better way is to get individual opinions from people throughout the department. This is going to be uncomfortable from the point of view of many managers because they are going to have to leave the safety of their offices.

Ways To Engage Your Employees Without Barriers

There are many ways to engage your employees, after all, the idea isn’t new to business. Henry Ford was known to routinely walk the floor of his production plant and engage with the workers, inquiring about everything from their work to their home life. This led to improved pay and working conditions, as well as increased efficiency in the production line.

So, how can you do something similar? Here are a few ideas to spark ideas of your own that are specific to your company.

  • Have a suggestion box. I know, this is an old idea, and maybe you don’t have to have an actual box where people drop off written suggestions. However, you could create an e-mail account where people can submit proposals or observations. You could also create a rewards program if you use somebody’s idea.

  • Require managers to get out of the office and speak to their staff.

  • Seek out compliments from staff. It’s as important to learn what you’re doing right as to learn what you’re doing wrong.

  • Have informal lunches with individual employees to get their impressions of your company, and how you are doing.

The key idea is to get leadership out of the office and into the midst of the staff. Shoulder to shoulder with your team is the best way to learn about how deeply ingrained your company culture really is.

Equal Parts Consulting knows companies achieve their full potential when they develop solid values and have a strong company culture. Please contact us if you would like to learn further about our services.