How To Deal With Employees Who Complain About Other Employees?

Whether you are a manager, business owner or HR professional, dealing with employees’ complaints about other co-workers can be really exhausting.

So, how to deal with employees who complain about other employees? What to do and what not to do in order to solve the problem in the most satisfactory way for all sides? Let’s see, keep reading!

Importance Of Dealing Conflicts

Unfortunately, in any office setting, some kind of disagreement and conflict between co-workers will happen from time to time.
Mostly, issues can be solved easily without management or employer engagement. However, sometimes coworker disputes lead the manager, HR department or employer to resolve it.

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It is important to learn how to deal with employee complaints to keep your department running smoothly and efficiently.

How To Handle An Employee’s Complaint About A Co-worker?

If there is no HR department in your company, you may have to handle the complaint yourself. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to solve conflict quickly and easily. Let’s start from the beginning before you do any action.

  1. Receiving employee complaints –  This is the start of the process and it is very important how you will react to employee complaints. Try to stay calm and don’t react impulsively.
  2. Listen carefully – Listen with total dedication. Your employee should feel heard, no matter how frivolous issues seem. Also, sometimes you don’t even have to react, but just listen.
  3. communication

  4. Ask lots of questions – That one is very important. During the conversation, ask as many questions as you want to understand the conflict better. Ask these questions – who, what, when, why, where and how. Paraphrase the complaint and ask an employee if your interpretation is correct. That will help you to get accurate insight.
  5. Written documentation – Many people avoid doing this step, but it’s crucial. Ask the employee to write an email about the facts of the complaint. If the situation escalates, you will have written proof of what was said.
  6. writing a report

    1. Thank for the info – Tell your employee that you will follow through. Don’t tell the employee what you plan to do or when, just thank them for the info.

    After you hear complaints, take an action.

    • Don’t delay responding – Time is very important in this situation. If you don’t address complaints quickly, everything can become much worse.
    • Investigation – After receiving complaints, you should investigate them accordingly. If there were witnesses, talk to them. Ask them to describe the situation.
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    • Obtain all relevant evidence – That applies to documents and files to gather all the information you could. So, check out all the evidence as well as employee telling.
    • Talk again with the person who made a complaint – Ask follow-up questions after you have checked all evidence. Get clarification if there are any blurred details.
    • Talk with your supervisor – Talk with him/her, show all the evidence, tell your conclusion and ask for advice. Also, you can look into company policy to check how complaints are handled.
    • Tell the person that action will be taken – When the complaint was against another person, just inform the person who made a complaint that the issue was addressed. Don’t go into details.
    • employer and employee

    • Move on – When the complaint has been addressed and solved, move on.
    • Keep compliant in the back of your mind – It seems like the opposite of the previous advice, but keep compliant back in your mind. You might notice a pattern of the same issue or the same person making another complaint, which is also important to be aware of.
    • Get a neutral facilitator – Some complaints are more severe than others, so you may feel you need a second point of view of the situation. Get a neutral facilitator who will see the problem more clearly than you can at the moment.

    What Not To Do When Employee Complains?

    There are some things you should definitely avoid when your employee comes to you and make a complaint.

    1. Don’t make a joke about the situation or employee. When employee talks to you, don’t get distracted, leave your mobile phone, laptop, or whatever you do at the moment and listen to his/her complaint.
    2. Don’t show disrespect or minimize the importance of the situation. If you ignore the problem, it will become worse.
    3. Don’t punish the person who makes a complaint or the person who he/she complaining about. Take your time to check everything.
    4. office communication

    5. Don’t take sides, try to balance a friendly and professional approach.
    6. Gossip – don’t discuss the situation with other co-workers.

    What Else Can You Do?

    To avoid conflicts, rumors, gossip and other inappropriate things in the workplace, there are some things you can do to show your employees what kind of behavior is required from them.

    • It is important not to get sucked into this destructive game. Encourage your employees to mind their business.
    • Make it clear that complaining isn’t something you’ll appreciate. Unless there is a good reason for complaining, politely explain that rumors won’t be tolerated.
    • work ethic

    • Encourage your employees to address their concerns directly with another co-worker. They can solve some trivial complaints by themselves.
    • Show that employees will be treated fairly, but as unique individuals with different needs.
    • Be a role model – Show them what kind of behavior is tolerable. It is important that the manager or employer avoid tattling and gossiping about other employees and managers.

    What Do You Do When A Co-worker Complains About You?

    It isn’t nice to discover that your co-worker has been gossiping about you, so your first reaction could be anger or hurt. That’s perfectly normal, nobody doesn’t want to be in that position. So, what to do?

    First, you can discover what he/she is upset about and why this person didn’t come to you first. Then you may go to the person and ask about that. Let he/she talk, listen and don’t react until he/she finishes. Tell the person that you will alter your behavior and try to create a new agreement that this person comes to you directly in the future.

    If the gossip becomes unbearable, discuss the situation with your manager or HR and they will deal with the situation.

    In any case, behave with dignity and professionalism.

    Final Verdict

    If you are in a position of authority, dealing with conflicts and complaints is part of your job. It is necessary to learn some steps that will help you manage this kind of unpleasant situation. Therefore, this article covers some do’s and don’ts to help you resolve the complaints more effectively.

Melissa is a freelance writer with a Bachelor of Economy. She became one of the OfficeNeedle team members in 2020. Her expertise in business management lies in 6-year experience working in 3 companies which allowed her to improve her business skills. The knowledge she has received through her work, she presents in the educational articles helping many people who start or run a business. Her secret love is design so she writes also about office furniture and equipment.