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Author: Elyse, PMP, CPHIMS
October 31, 2009


A well performing team can accomplish great things. Teams are comprised of individuals who at times are tired, scared, stressed, and driven. As a leader, I spent a decent amount of time nurturing and developing my team. Every moment is well spent and worth it. Recently we have all agreed on a policy of venting, whining, and the problem solving cheese.

There are times where we just need to vent. It's a burst, normally due to a straw however it is a burst. This is venting, it is complaining in a controlled burst not to last more than 10 minutes. My team and colleagues can release in their first venting on any subject matter and trust in having someone who will listen and hear their concerns.

However when we get to the second or third time a venting occurs on a topic. It is time to bring the discussion around to problem solving. As individuals begin to focus on the negative and don't engage in problem solving, this behavior is unacceptable. Life is short, and we have important things to accomplish. Let's begin to talk about how to improve the state of affairs.

People normally whine about items they don't feel empowered to change. They focus on what they can't do, instead of what they can do.

The first time, it is a venting and commonly a subject matter problem. The next time we have a trend occurring, and this is where we need to coach our team player to be constructive process improvement artists. If the whining continues, we may be dealing with a negative attitude which has begun to permeate our colleague. It is time for a discussion on the consequences of a negative attitude, before it permeates our team.

So in summarization, when faced with venting, whining, and missing in action problem-solving try these tactics:

  1. Listen - Normally the first time, this may just be vent. It is important as a leader to listen our teammate. A supportive ear is crucial.

  2. Question - For the second time, whining is now official, it is time for Socratic leading questions. These questions should be poised based upon what the individual can do to solve the problem. On the third time, explore the previous solution's outcomes; help the individual to be empowered to resolve the issue. If it is absolutely above the teammate authority, offer to help and commit to actions. Check up with your associate on their activities and check back with what you have committed to do. Have the conversations focused on problem solving.

  3. Discuss Consequences - As we extend into the forth and fifth time, this is beginning to be a negative attitude. It is time for a behavioral discussion, which the consequences of a negative attitude.

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