Do you find that you are spending time listening to employees talking to you about work saying, “I just need to vent”?
I’ve worked with many clients who have told me that their time is often taken up relationship managing rather than working on their business. They feel like they are spinning their wheels, yet don’t see how to support their employees and be productive at the same time.
You can see the conundrum. You know that happy workers are productive workers; therefore, it goes that you should support your employees. Allow them to blow off steam by venting to a safe place (i.e. you) and then they will go happily back to work. But did you know that by allowing them to emotion-dump on you without follow up will not help them overall and may even negatively affect you? So, what to do…
The next time you have an employee venting to you, listen to them and also pick up on what they are not saying. Are there cues indicating they see themselves as victims? or as participants? Are they taking responsibility for their part? are they trying to help themselves?
If they are “just venting”, turn the tables before they leave the chat. Let them know you hear them and then ask them what they are doing about it. Ask them how they hope to solve the situation/relationship. If they say they are “just venting”, ask them if they think it has helped them, if they think that the venting has resolved their frustration, so they won’t have those feelings anymore.
Spin the conversation. It may sound manipulative at first, but you are turning yourself into a coach to help them help themselves, and this is a far better role than being used as a passive sounding board.
There are of course times that you will need to intervene – an employer is responsible to ensure a safe and healthy work environment, plus you want to keep turn over down – but if you find much of your time is taken up by venting employees, try this simple step and see if your time becomes more productive. Monitor yourself and see if you are more positive, too. Hopefully, with disciplined practice, you’ll see changes and feel less drained from “venters”.