If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out… Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
Normally, when you hear the term victimization, it’s associated with crime in the traditional sense. However, corporate America has a slightly different version.
Patrick Pityme offers a clear picture of what victimization looks like at his company:
You know if other people would just do what they’re supposed to do and get out of my way, I’d be able to get my work done on time.
Melanie Miserable, sensing Patrick’s pain, chimes in with a jab of her own:
Yeah, if my boss didn’t give me all these stupid things to do that aren’t my job, then I’d be able to take better care of our customers.
Listen, if you can’t be a victim at work, what joy is there left in the world?
I’m not blaming the whiners and bellyachers whose penchant for complaining short-circuits company morale. No, my beef is with executive leadership for hiring and then tolerating employees whose time would be best spent on a therapist’s couch learning how to deal with their persecution complex.
Doesn’t the thought of what these downtrodden employees might say to your customers paralyze you with fear? It should. When there isn’t sufficient at-work empathy for their trials and tribulations, victims think nothing of preying on innocent customers, hoping to find a shoulder to cry on.
In assessing the damage caused by victims in your workplace, here are some of the more vulnerable areas:
- Departmental morale: it only takes one victim to spread the seeds of malcontent among their peers.
- Quality control: attention is diverted from producing a quality product or service to the “ain’t it awful” characters whose antics are designed to draw attention to their particular grievances.
- Customer satisfaction: when victims are denied a bully pulpit, they have no qualms about sharing their pain with your customers.
- Profitability: turnover costs for victims that need to be put out of their misery can be astronomical, and that just scratches the surface as to how their behavior can impact long-range profitability.
Accept the fact that every workplace has some degree of victimization happening on a routine basis; no company is immune. The key is to make a once-and-for-all decision about how to handle chronic victims when you discover them. I like the Affirmation + Information + Feedback + Agreement approach.
Affirmation: “You have many skills and talents that have the potential to make you a great employee.
Information: “You have serious victimization issues that have created obstacles to your future growth and development with our company.
Feedback: When you ask for their feedback, victims will most often tell you a few more scapegoat stories about how bad things are for them.
Agreement: “We will be happy provide some assistance in finding new employment and getting you a fresh start elsewhere.”
Nothing in your mission or values statement says that you will support the cause of the victims you have working for you. Keep it that way and your productive employees will be ecstatic that you did.