How Should Managers Initially Respond to Employee Complaints?
Here is an approach managers can use to respond to employee complaints:
- Communicate your work rules and policies. If your employees know the rules, there is less opportunity for complaints.
- Make available employee complaint forms.
- Respond to employee complaints in the following manner:
- Make sure you understand the problem. Allow the employee to talk without interruption.
- Ask questions until you have a clear understanding of the facts. If the employee discusses the problem in generalities, probe for specific facts.
- Remain calm and in control; do not lose your temper.
- Establish a record by taking notes. This will also assure the employee that you are taking the matter seriously.
- Repeat the complaint. This will ensure that you and the employee agree on the facts and the issues.
- Don’t make a decision until you have obtained all the facts. It is better to postpone a decision than to make one that you would reverse later.
- Check the company’s formal policies to determine whether or not the problem is covered. Have there been other similar cases? How were they handled in the past?
- Gather information about the complaining employee. Review the employee’s personnel record. The more you know about the employee, the easier it will be to handle the complaint.
- Advise the employee of the decisions as soon as possible. Determine who can best communicate the decision to the employee and the most appropriate time and place to meet with the employee.
- If the employee’s complaint is without merit, explain it to the employee in a pleasant, low-key manner. If he or she appears to be unwilling to accept your decision, advise how the complaint may be appealed.
- If the complaint is sound, thank the employee for calling it to your attention so that you can resolve it.
- Follow through with corrective action as soon as possible. Delay may result in other problems arising.
- Meet again with the employee after taking action in order to determine if the issue has been completely resolved to his or her satisfaction.
Reposted with permission from Wolters Kluwer.
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