4 Major Gripes Heard Around the Office

“That’s not fair!”

I’m sure you’ve heard your kids shout out those words more than once. You’ve probably heard some of your coworkers or customers use those words more than you would like.

And if you’re being really honest, you may have to admit that you’ve used that same phrase … more than once.

The problem with the phrase is it doesn’t work. It seldom, if ever, changes anything.

I know. Whenever I would gripe about something and tell my Mama something wasn’t fair, she’d always say, “A fair is something that comes to town once a year and this ain’t it.”

Unfortunately, griping about things not being fair doesn’t magically go away as we become adults. We just get cleverer in the way we phrase it.

As a speaker in hundreds of companies, I’ve kept a record of the gripes I hear people utter. After all, it’s my job as a speaker/trainer/coach to turn those things around.

These are the four most commonly heard gripes these days.


1. The Work Gripes

“I can’t believe how hard we have to work.”

Some employees (and managers) say, “We have to work from the moment we come in to the moment we leave.”

I want to say, “Duh! That’s why it’s called work.” In fact, I’m flabbergasted when I hear people complain about having to work at work.

There is some good news, however. When you hear those kinds of gripes, you know that you’ve got some hungry people on your hands. They’re desperate for some motivational food. Their emotions and energies are running on empty.

But … but … but … the problem is easily fixable. They have to read something or listen to something motivational on a regular basis. They have to feed their minds and spirits.

That’s why I still go to at least 40 hours of training every year and listen to something motivational for at least 10 minutes every day. I can’t expect to motivate everybody else unless I’m super motivated and have a proven process I can pass on to others.


2. The Budget Gripes

“We can’t afford to train our people.”

When you talk to some companies about training, they’ll say, “It’s not in the budget.” In fact it’s the first thing they cut out of the budget when things get tough. They see it as an expense they can no longer afford.

That’s not the way the most successful companies operate, however.

As noted in The 100 Best Companies to Work for in America, on the average, the 100 best companies lavished 43 hours of training on EACH employee every year.

At brokerage firm Edward Jones, for example, new brokers are immersed in 17 weeks of classes at a cost of $50,000 to $70,000 per person. Dan Timm, a principal at the company, says, “We consider training an investment rather than an expense.”

Some leaders will even defend their lack of training by saying, “What if we train our people and they leave?” I respond by asking, “What if you don’t train your people and they stay?”

According to study after study, giving your people great training is one of the top three things you can do to increase motivation, productivity, and retention in your company. In other words, you can’t afford not to train your people.


3. The Change Gripes

“I’m sick and tired of all these changes.”

This gripe is certainly understandable. After all, most people have jobs that are very different these days than the original job they signed up for. The name of the game is change and more change.

Maybe they’re fed up with having to learn a new software program or they’re freaked out when they have to move to another floor. They don’t want to deal with new product offerings and they don’t want their job descriptions to change.

Again, the gripe is understandable, but griping about how unfair it is won’t do you any good. So I have a three-word workshop for those people: “Deal with it.”

One professor did a great job of teaching that lesson. One day, one of his students came to class visibly upset. On the verge of tears, the student explained he couldn’t take the final exam because his fiancé had just called off their engagement. He was distraught and couldn’t eat or sleep. He was too depressed to study, let alone be tested.

The professor asked him, “And how long do you plan on being depressed?”

The student was stunned by the question. Then he said, “I dunno. Two weeks, I guess.”

The professor said, “Fine. Come back in two weeks.” And he did.

Three months later, the student confided that until this incident, he never realized he had so much control over his moods. He discovered that he was NOT ONLY in charge of how bad he felt BUT ALSO how long he would feel bad.

Think about this the next time you get upset about something. How bad do you want to feel? And for how long? It’s up to you!


4. The Customer Gripes

“The customers expect too much.”

Maybe so.

The Associated Press gave these two examples:

First, a man who robbed a Wendy’s in Atlanta was so put off by his skimpy haul that he called the restaurant twice to voice his disapproval.

Second, Arthur Bundrage approached a Syracuse, New York, bank teller and demanded $20,000. When he got home, he discovered he’d been shortchanged. Outraged, he stormed back to the bank to tell them what he thought of their service. That’s when he was arrested.

Yeah, some customers may expect too much. But the fact still remains that we pay employees to treat customers with respect … no matter what.

I’ll give you a simple research assignment to see how well you and your organization are doing with this fourth gripe. Do you hear more griping ABOUT the customers or do you see more smiling AT the customers?

So what’s the antidote to these four gripes? I could pat myself on the back and say you will learn every communication skill and motivation strategy you’ll ever need to turn those things around when you book one of my programs. In fact, I stake my professional reputation on that.

But I also know that many of you will never have the chance to work with me face to face. So I’ll leave you with this thought to encourage you to keep on keeping on:


You did not wake up today to be mediocre.


Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 902 – 4 Major Gripes Heard Around the Office