I am amazed at how much time gets wasted by people who complain all of the time.
According to a survey done by badbossology.com and Development Dimensions International, a majority of employees spend 10 or more hours per month complaining -- or listening to others complain -- about their bosses or upper management. Even more amazing, almost a third spend 20 hours or more per month doing so.
When I first read this study, I couldn't believe it. The numbers just seemed too high. (I guess since I didn't do the research myself, I concluded it must be wrong!) Too check it out; I interviewed more than 200 of my clients. The results were almost identical.
While the survey results might initially be perceived an indictment of bad managers, I also see it as indictment of whiners; 10-20 hours per month is a lot of time. If people have that much time to waste, they should go back to school and get another degree (and then get another job if everything is so awful).
But back to original question: I have a simple, yet effective strategy to reduce "whining time." Encourage your direct reports, colleagues, and peers to ask these four questions before making a public comment:
1. Will this comment help our company?
2. Will this comment help our customers?
3. Will this comment help the person that I am talking to?
4. Will this comment help the person that I am talking about?
If the answers are "no," "no," "no," and "no," I have a suggestion that doesn't require a Ph.D. to implement.
Don't say it.
We often use "honesty" as an excuse for dysfunctional disclosure. But we can be totally honest without engaging in useless negative disclosure. For example, while it is normal to believe that some of our co-workers may be jerks -- we have no moral, ethical or legal obligation to share this view with the rest of the world.
Train everyone to think before speaking and to ask themselves, not just, "Is this comment what I believe?" but also, "Is this comment adding value?"
Teach everyone to focus on saying and doing things that add value -- and to just leave out the rest.
Life is good.
My recent book, MOJO, is a New York Times (advice), Wall Street Journal (business), USAToday (money) and Publisher's Weekly (non-fiction) best seller. It is now available online and at major bookstores.