Using the Energy of Complaining

Complaining, you hear it during coffee breaks, at special events, and yes, of course, in the rest room. By nature, the supply chain/logistics affects many departments, many people, management and customers. With that many moving parts, something will be suboptimal. In lean processes, the goal is to reduce waste.  Since complaining is a process, there are chances for significant gains by removing the waste. Let me be clear, the complaining itself is not the waste of energy, it is the lack of response that wastes the energy of the complaining.

Imagine a steam engine with some of the steam being given off as waste.  Now, imagine that you capture the steam being wasted to do some useful function.  That is the analogy I wish to make with complaining.

Looking at complaining as an asset does take a change of focus for some. The aim is taking of what could be destructive criticism and turning it instead to constructive criticism.

Or to say it another way, the organization’s employee is an asset who can improve the success and profitability of the organization. Improve handling of complaints can enhance this process.

Steps taken should include:

  1. Listening.  Many time the important information in complaining is only available outside the organization. Organizations should provide a forum for this process to take place, making the information visible.
  2. Responding. Avoid negative feedback to the speaker of the complaint.  That person just took a risk to himself/herself to better the organization This is a risk that should not be made into a crime.
  3. Analyzing the complaint. Not every complaint can be responded in the way the complainer would like. However a response, either yea or nay to the proposed change is necessary.  The response should include the reasoning of the decision. If the criticism is respected, then is a chance for further efforts by that individual to improve the organization
  4. Crediting.  Crediting is a powerful motivational tool to encourage people to be proactive. So when something goods comes about as a result of a complaint, the person who brought up should be publicly recognized.



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