Archive for Training

Why a Journey Map Matters

When we take on a project, one of the first things we do is to lay out a journey map. We do this because it helps us tell a story, outlines where we are going, and most importantly, it outlines the stages or gates that help us know if we are making progress.

For a full change management overview of the journey, there are three specific views that will make a difference.

  1. Sponsor journey map
  2. User journey map
  3. Development (or project) journey map

Sponsor journey map

The sponsor journey map gives the sponsor an idea of what we are doing, the key dates when activities are occurring and the approval gates the sponsor will want to ensure approvals are performed. This journey map

User journey map

The user journey map is the journey the user will go through so the project team can layout the path that the user can expect to follow during an implementation. This will include informing their teams about when communications will come out, dates that will impact the users, and the implementation, training and support plans. It will give key dates and provide them will information they will need to know on the “day of” cut-over.

Development (or project) journey map

This is the journey map that allows all specialties to work with and is the most detailed. It will identify the following:

  • Phases of the project
  • Important design or decision dates
  • Specific changes that will occur and how those changes impact the business, users, or customers.

These are important items so that the specialist teams can provide the support needed for the project. Specialist teams such as training, communications, development, document managers, etc.

To truly provide a rich experience for the people being impacted by change, without a journey map they may flounder in understanding what actions to take, the key messages that need to be shared, and the plan moving forward. During a project, the journey map matters!

It is not the only thing that matters, there is a lot of work in a project that involves readiness, development and sustainability planning, but the journey map can remove a lot of headaches and help everyone see the bigger picture.


Did your technology investment fail?

Technology solutions

Efficiency at the cost of humanity may cause more harm to a company than good. Well-designed people strategies and tactical action among teams as aligned with efficiency models, yes, but let’s not try to solve productivity with the implementation of software if people strategies have not been considered in the overall plan.

Let’s decode this from the corporate speak…

If you are going to buy the software there needs to be a plan in place for the people who use it!

Case in Point

Shared with us in a meeting this week was the sad story of an organization who indeed did buy a software solution but put no plan in place for the people who will use it. That plan would have involved the following:

  1. Communicate: Know the desired outcomes for the software and how it is intended to be used, then convey it to the people who will be using it. (Vision)
  2. Implement well: A lot of software has multi-level offerings which allow the product to scale along with your company’s growth by providing additional plugins and add-ons to increase functionality. Hire someone from the vendor site to come in and assist the project team in implementing the solution. Target specific needs and functionality to meet desired outcome. As an added change management strategy, ensure that front line users and decision makers are included in design workshops to make sure the tool is being built and rolled out to meet actual need. This will simplify the task for your IT team who are unfamiliar with the software and generate increased buy-in as teams get involved.
  3. Train: When you ask your employees to self-learn a new software, that software will not give you the bang for your buck that you were hoping for. Your team is likely too busy in their day jobs to find resources and play with the tool. Why would you want them to trade efficiency for a savings on training? Let them learn from an experienced trainer, with all the hints, tips and shortcuts provided in a day or a weekend to benefit your investment rather than the plethora of hours your team is taking away from the day-job as they navigate their way through self-tutelage.

Non-technical people often make the assumption that those who appear tech-savvy instantly know how to use all technology. This, simply, is not the case and why it is so important to provide administrators and users with training and certification courses. In addition to that, you want your team using the software in a consistent manner.

If you want to realize a decent return on your investment (ROI) from your new “efficiency” or “Client Relationship Management” tools, you need to wrap some people strategy around their use. Fail that, and you fail your expected ROI.

I laugh when someone states, “That technology was a waste of money.” When more often than not, the technology was never the problem to begin with, it was the lack of people strategy around the solution.

This version of this post was also presented on Linkedin as “Your Grand Investement and Why it Fails”


Own It to Change It

Own_It_Change_It How does organizational change occur?

Change occurs because people, just like you and me, made the decision to change. How that decision came about may be different for each individual involved; the motivator, influence or even traumatic event that may occur and spur someone toward change is usually personal and unique to each.

In the end, change occurred because the individual decided to take responsibility for their contribution to the current state of affairs & take action toward the future.

Every stakeholder involved plays an instrument in the orchestra of change.

Successful, sustained change occurs when someone owns and takes responsibility for their individual piece of the musical score, especially if it achieved a not-so-appealing outcome based on past performance.

Change is hard. It involves leaving our comfort zones, habits or belief systems and developing new ones. The transition is messy while we figure out how to accomplish new behaviours. There will even be a few mistakes along the way and people will need to readjust, (forgive), move forward and shift action. It can be awkward or frustrating. Keeping the whole orchestra (organization) and the final performance (goals) in focus will help.

  • Each person needs to know what instrument they play and how that instrument contributes to the whole.
  • Each person will need their own sheet music and it will be slightly different than someone playing a different instrument.
  • Each person will need to own their personal performance AND how they perform along with others. (You’ve all heard music when one instrument is off or out of tune.)

Making change is not about laying blame, it’s about being responsible for and owning ‘what doesn’t work’ or is no longer sustainable action – owning it personally in your corner of the stage – and it will take practice. Equally important to successful change is collaborating with others, following the beat or lead of another, being supportive of and aligning with other members of the orchestra, not to mention caring deeply about those people who will bear witness to the performance.

Own it to change it…

With luck, your orchestra has a supportive and active conductor guiding you along the way.

P.S. If you have an absentee or a non supportive conductor, you are still part of an orchestra and need to own your part in the overall performance in spite of a lack of leadership. Working together WITH the other musicians toward the greater performance is the best way to win with change.

P.P.S. Pointing fingers at others and blaming a lack of leadership as an excuse for poor performance or a bad attitude is a cop-out that shifts responsibility to others – this is a lose-lose activity. Win-Win activities involve owning it to change it.



Policies, Procedures and the Leadership Team

PoliciesWhether you have 10 people walking in the door for work or 1000, they all bring with them their dreams, hopes, values, frustrations, problems and their desire to make their career the best it can be. People bring with them every experience they have ever had, and their perception of what that experience has meant to them, good or bad. Most of them will react to everyday situations based on those experiences, putting a wrapper around the situation based on what they believe it means to them.

Witnessing the human dynamic can be both awe inspiring and difficult, depending on what is playing out at any given time within the organization. You will have motivated and non-motivated employees, you will have great leaders and managers who are biding their time. There will be people with good intentions and the odd one with not-so-good intentions.

And this is why every company needs to have policies and procedures in place with strict adherence to them.

For the routine actions and for the unusual actions that will occur in any company, a set of guidelines for both employee and employer provide clarity and help avoid miscommunication.

First, the best place to start is to look at your Provincial or State labour standards or code. These are the guidelines you as an employer must uphold, it is the law in the place where you live. It is also the job of every manager in your company to know what these are; are you helping them? Small companies without a solid HR presence will especially need to know what the rules are.

Second, you need to protect the company and your employees from harm. Harm includes law suits, security issues, labour problems and safety. There are clear guidelines in all of these areas as well. Do your homework, make sure you know what your rights are and make sure you know the rights of your employees. A company handbook can include some of these items.

Third, you need to understand what processes you as a company wish to work within, basically; “What are my manager’s supposed to do and what are they allowed to do within these walls and how do I want them to accomplish it?” AND “What are my employees supposed to do and how do I want them to accomplish that?”

Many companies are unaware of how important their own policies and procedures are.

Executive team, not everyone ‘works like you and thinks like you.’

I know a lot of companies are weary trying to keep up with the legislated pieces and want to apply more of the budget to operations rather than HR. However, HR, when given the right direction and authority, have the ability to save the company many dollars in the long run.

From vacations to stress leave, from benefits to complaints, without a solid set of procedures to access and the guidelines of what to do, your employees will be scrambling for answers and wanting support. In most companies employees want their immediate manager to have both the answers and the authority to make a difference for them. Have you prepared your management team to handle all they will need to handle when they encounter a difficult situation or event, a budgetary shift, a grievance? Have you prepared your HR team to take on what the manager cannot? Have you outlined the differences in their roles? Are you tracking attrition, complaints, costs of transition, and more? Have you outlined the overall ‘behavioural intolerance level’ your company will not accept and what happens when they arise? If not, you have some work to do.

It is easy to make the assumption your staff understands how you want the company to run, after all, you are there every day and you are showing them how to do it. Be cautious, leader, these people need things clearly laid out, eliminate as much opportunity for misinterpretation of your desires as possible. Empower your staff to make decisions without you because the policy or procedure is spelled out in a way that supports your teams and protects your organization. But be aware, this is not a quick task or a two month answer, you will need facilitation and direction through about 18 months to two years of development if this is the first time you have embarked on such a task and you have more than 20 employees.

Give your Managers and HR department the tools and the power to make a difference for you and for your staff. Develop a company where everyone knows what support looks like and your teams are empowered to shine.


patticroppedPatti Blackstaffe works with people and organizations to develop
Happy Workplaces world-wide guiding them toward mastery and leadership
through consulting, advising, coaching, speaking, and delivering training.

You can reach Patti at 1-855-968-5323

Contact us here to book for Idea Sessions, Change Management, Executive Coaching or Team Development.

Idea Sessions | Change Management | Executive Coaching | Team Building



Liars Get Caught, Period.

liarIt may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, but liars do get caught.

The thing about lies is that they are unsustainable. Eventually, someone begins to catch on, investigate, corroborate and vet the lies.

When a person tells enough of them, it is too hard for the liar to keep track of who/what was told.

The truth is always a ‘same story’ scenario – it is clean and you only have to remember the truth.

Lies get bent, twisted and confused until one can no longer remember what they have told, to whom they have told it, and eventually lies begin to unravel.

When a long series of lies begins to unravel, desperation sets in – and the lies get bigger to cover the other unraveling lies. It is a deep vortex from which one rarely recovers, especially if they have a high profile or are in a position of authority. (edit 2013: think Lance Armstrong)

Indication one is caught in a lie – they try to eliminate the power of the people who know the truth!

Very risky.

Cheating works the same way as lying…..cheating labels a leader. People quit being loyal to liars and cheaters, word gets out, and pretty soon liars and cheaters struggle to hire the quality people for the job. Liars tell stories to boost their own interests, and after a while they begin to believe no one sees through the stories. They are wrong.

Solution? Don’t do it.

Transparency and honesty are key pieces of the leadership puzzle. If you want your team to perform, remember that lying, cheating, and bullying will shut the performing parts of their brains down – not as many synapses in the brain will fire.

Honesty, engagement and giving credit to those who have worked for you, this opens up the performing parts of the brain – more synapses in the brain will fire. This equals great performance by your team. It is science. Pay attention.


Contact us here to book for Idea Sessions, Change Management, Executive Coaching or Team Development.


2010 Asked Us To Engage; 2011 Suggests We Evolve

Year in Review & Global Evolution – 2010 brought with it a strong awareness in global online communities and two words truly stood out for us.

Engagement and Authenticity.

Happy New Year

image courtesy of Madhavan M - India

Some of what we observed:

  • Social media transformed from geek-fun to mainstream as online communities grew at rapid rates.
  • News of natural disasters arrived on our desktops and mobile devices in real-time, thanks to Twitter, Facebook and other online community sharing.
  • Customers felt comfortable sharing their good and bad experiences with thousands of online connections as companies discovered their carefully thought-out and executed customer service departments failed in customer service satisfaction.
  • YouTube grew as the #2 search engine running closely behind Google, sending the message that visual is important to consumers.
  • Small Businesses discovered a global audience online as they stumbled through figuring out how to leverage new online tools and software expanding their reach to potential customers.
  • Politicians and Large Corporate discovered people want truth, action and disclosure – in several uncomfortable ways – Wikileaks being one of them.
  • Slow growth and less disposable spending ushered in a call for creating greater levels of consumer satisfaction – on a grand scale.

The repetitive word was ‘Engage’ and engaging with authenticity and integrity was the theme we heard loud and clear in all areas, both online and in person, especially from employees.

If Engage was the word for 2010 we believe Evolve will be the word for 2011

Evolve for flexible change in transformational times.

Companies who focus on culture and build a team excelling in co-creation, collaboration and sharing will begin to own their markets. Here are some ways smart companies will evolve in 2011:

  • Through partnering in unique ways to create exciting projects and connect employees, vendors, developers and customers.
  • Utilizing experts through virtual services and building a transparent model of collaboration.
  • Leveraging the diversity of knowledge using the crowd, transforming top-down leadership organizations into flexible and collaborative decision making companies.
  • Developing software with open development practices and shared knowledge.

We believe engagement and authenticity will drive this evolution of engagement in the coming year, and the push to change will come from the crowd, rather than organizations themselves. We are witnessing transformation on a global scale where the everyday citizen’s voice is now more powerful because of the collective gathering of ideas and thoughts enhanced with so many new technologies and platforms. Companies who evolve to meet the challenges offered them by that collective will be the winners – changing the face of leadership entirely.

Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership, Customer Service and Cultural integration through Mergers and Acquisition. You can book her to speak at her personal page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals, teams, group training and company strategy. Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there. (403) 201-8512


What Your Brain Knows Now

Image courtesy of Artem Chernyshevych

Have you ever noticed that after you buy a new car, every time you turn around you are seeing the same kind of car everywhere when they were never noticed before?

This is what brain awareness does. There are so many images and things to see, our brains filter them and look only for evidence of that which is in our current awareness.

Where this really gets interesting is when our awareness is tuned into our thoughts – because the same kind of filter exists for things we think.

So when the dominant thoughts are:

  • Worthlessness
  • Failure
  • Hatred
  • Frustration

Your brain goes to work filtering things around you to find evidence of your current awareness.

When your dominant thoughts are:

  • Success
  • Belief
  • Faith in people
  • Happiness

Your brain also goes to work filtering things around you to find evidence of that current awareness.

Where it gets even more interesting than that, is when you begin focusing your thoughts on things more positive than negative. Is it “luck” when someone is in the right place at the right time, or are they simply aware of the possibility and thus sought out the evidence around them? This might be why some recognize opportunity and others completely miss it.

Where is your current awareness?

Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership Development, Customer Service and Culture through Mergers and Acquisition. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals & teams, group training and company strategy. Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there. 403-201-8512


What’s The Real Job?

Image Courtesy Bob Smith

Many jobs are confusing, if performance is based on a spreadsheet, is that what the real job is?

If customers are not being served but the spreadsheet looks great, there is a disjoint between what’s expected and what’s delivered. Your head-office might love you to bits, but your customers might be frustrated.

Many people feel if they don’t manage to the spreadsheet, they are going to risk their career and thus fail to serve the team or the client in order to do what they believe the company wants of them. It’s a tough balance, one that often pits values against performance.

Here are 3 questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are living up to your potential.

  1. Who are my customers, my real customers?
  2. What % of my time is being used to meet evaluation rather than meet client expectation?
  3. Does meeting this performance indicator actually meet my own value system?

Sometimes we forget that our evaluator is not a customer. Become your own customer experience evaluator, try to see what experience you are giving to your customers while still meeting your performance goals.

Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership Development, Customer Service and Culture through Mergers and Acquisition. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals & teams, group training and company strategy. Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there. 403-201-8512


How Do Your Employees Measure Up?

photo courtesy of KLiverap, Poland

Think about this.

The average worker may fail to exceed expectation but most often they meet evaluation.

What you evaluate determines employee performance review scores – these scores determine their advancement.

What they’ll work hardest to achieve is what they believe you need from them to meet those scores.

Ask yourself this:

Where is the disconnect between what kind of performance I WANT and what I evaluate?

Your evaluation must be directly related to reaching the goals set forth by the team. A solid review of the evaluation you use tied into where you want the team to go will offer your employees a clear path to follow. Remember to evaluate on those “intangibles” you want to see happen and be clear about what they are. Share those measures with the employees!

Once these are in alignment, be enthusiastic in sharing your passion for achieving the goal.

See the goal, align your performance evaluation with meeting that goal, watch them shine.

Guess what? Your employees will then pleasantly surprise you.

Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership Development, Customer Service and Culture through Mergers and Acquisition. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals & teams, group training and company strategy. Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there. 403-201-8512


‘Service’ Station? I think not!

A letter to the attendant at the Esso gas station in Claresholm…

I am sorry you are alone; it can be daunting to be the lone worker behind the counter of a gas station on a major highway at night. I am certain there are many rules about where you need to be to remain safe, especially as a female. So I thought I would help you out a little by offering some suggestions to the little problem we had last night.

Our problem, you ask? It is shocking when I come and tell you there is no toilet paper to find out you knew all along when you handed me the key to the washroom. It was even more disappointing to find out the next people will suffer the same issue until the following shift comes in because that was when you intended to solve the problem.

1. You might wish to request permission to lock the door with a “back in 5 minutes” note and replace the toilet paper.

2. Perhaps you could hand someone a roll as they walked into the washroom asking them to set it on the back of the toilet until you get to it.

3. Ideally, you might have given me this little tid-bit of information when you handed me the key so I would know there was none, then I could find my own solution.

Stuff happens, toilet paper runs out – I can handle that. What I don’t understand is your attitude and lack of concern or care for the many individuals who will enter your establishment – not to worry, they will only enter it once.

There is a gas station down the street from you; they are always crowded and seem to gain most of the highway traffic going through because line-ups at the pumps are daily occurrences. Whenever I have mentioned something to them, they jump into action. I will be their customer from now on, because your lack of care for my concern just lost me.

Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership Development, Customer Service and Culture through Mergers and Acquisition. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals & teams, group training and company strategy. Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there. 403-201-8512


Leader, be wise with your time

Yesterday, we talked about entrepreneurs and their valuable time, “A casual coffee is much like taking an hour-long leave of absence without pay.” Entrepreneurs struggle with the misconception of others that they are available unlike people in a typical job. Truth is they are simply flexible, not available.

So how does a leader within an organization manage their time effectively when it comes to people and who do they take the time to see and be with? Leaders are pulled in all sorts of directions from employees, customers, shareholders, public inquiry, colleagues and more.

Here are a few guidelines you may wish to use in defining your time spent.

Your employees need you.

The foundation of a strong team is the building of strong team relationships. Get to know them, what drives them, clarify your expectations and ask to know theirs.

Your customers want to know you.

Supporting your customer service team in doing a fantastic job keeps customers coming back time and again. You don’t have to be the one responding, but you do need a team that will.

Your colleagues can respect your time.

Boundaries can only be set by you. You define the number of distractions and detours you will respond to and attend. Burnout happens because we allow it, colleagues respect us more when we are clear about our boundaries up front.

A balance of all of these relationships and the time and energy you put to them will be different for every leader, the secret is in understanding your direction and building the plan to meet your goals.

Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership Development, Customer Service and Culture through Mergers and Acquisition. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals & teams, group training and company strategy. Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there. 403-201-8512


Lead Yourself…but not for free.

There appears to be a common misconception about entrepreneurs that has me fascinated. It is that they are free to be with, do for and make time available that “working people” do not have.

In the last few years I have promoted that one cannot lead well until they have learned first to lead themselves. This is exceptionally true of an entrepreneur, for if they cannot lead themselves their business suffers. Good business means income, and for an entrepreneur, time is money.

Every minute of every working day must be led and managed effectively to ensure a steady income. They are doing business, just like anyone in a typical “job”. The difference between the misconception and reality is this:

They are flexible, not available

Between the hours of 8am – 5pm they are still working, in fact, they are usually working between the hours of 5pm – 10pm just not as one would typically define “work”. To best lead self, an entrepreneur will need to be very selective in the activities they agree to take part. Why?

Because every hour they spend being with, doing for and making themselves available may be an hour they are not busy generating income for their business.

A casual coffee is much like taking an hour-long leave of absence without pay.

Entrepreneurs, to lead yourself well, decide if the activity in which you are being asked to take part will in some way lead to building a better business for you, or if it is precious time you are giving freely as a gift to another. How many gifts are you able to give, and to whom?

Patti is a strategic adviser in Leadership Development, Customer Service and Culture through Mergers and Acquisition. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals & teams, group training and company strategy. Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there. 403-201-8512


One Way In and One Way Out

My husband is the Director of Golf at a golf club in a small community outside of the city. I sometimes help out as a temporary staff member when they have larger than usual events. I always enjoy myself and love his staff.

A few weeks ago they hosted a double shot-gun with a large group of people calling for two separate banquets – one lunch and the other dinner. Unfortunately, there were quite a few of us caught and trapped on the wrong side of the barricades due to the town parade. This town has only one road through town that leads to the road to the golf course and it was frustrating to sit and wait.

There sat a visiting Executive Chef, Chef, Front of House Supervisor, two servers and myself all tapping our toes (except for me who was voicing the ridiculousness of the one way in and one way out situation) waiting for a town parade to end so we could get to work to serve the people attending the event.

Service is HUGE for me, and this whole situation frustrated me as I thought about all that needed to be done to ensure customers had a smashingly fabulous time. Having a good part of your staff unavailable certainly must cut into your confidence. The Food and Beverage manager was gracious as always at our late arrival, the event went off without any visible hitches and the customers were happy.

This made me think long and hard about One Way In One Way Out scenarios companies set themselves up for.

  • A single sales person who shares no information with the rest of the organization
  • No successors identified for key executive positions, nor knowledge transferred
  • Single individuals working in technical specialties who deliver directly to the customer

A simple and great solution to this problem is to assign Primary and Secondary leads in your most important key positions. Primary owns the title, Secondary owns enough of the knowledge to cover for the Primary in the event their world turns up-side-down and they cannot be at the office.

Companies who understand Primary and Secondary work teams experience

  • lower training costs,
  • fewer efficiency issues
  • job knowledge transfer
  • less individual burn-out

This can be managed well but it takes effort on behalf of the leader to ensure the teams are effectively utilizing tag-team philosophy.

One way in and one way out is a rickety road to travel and opens doors for delays, stress and frustration among employees. Remember, “Happy Workplaces Succeed”.

Patti is a strategic adviser in Leadership, Customer Service and Small business. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? We train leaders and employees in strategies for making workplaces happy for it is then that customers love to work with them, refer them to others, and keep coming back for more. – Hire us if you prefer to rise above the status-quo, care deeply about employee and customer experiences and truly believe in living and performing with excellence.


Failing My Own Leadership Course?

Lessons From The Team

Leaders somehow are given the impression they have to know all the answers and they need to be fully in charge. But I write today to prove that it is the team who can help you navigate your leadership best.

We were working on a large project recently that involved a number of various commercial and web visuals. As we struggled through the process I simply kept thinking…

“I cannot stand what this looks like.”

Have you ever stared at something for a long time trying to figure out what was wrong, but simply could not place it?

Was it the aesthetics bothering me, the layout itself or the whole concept? I just couldn’t pin it down.

I was close to missing a deadline; I was pushing my team hard; and I have to admit, the whole process was making me grumpy. Can’t imagine what they must have been thinking, but there were a lot of odd conversations and weird changes I kept asking for that did nothing to improve the project.

One morning my webmaster said… is it coming from your heart, from the depths of who you are and what you believe in?


Brilliance lives in your team, listen to them! All I needed to do was to say to my webmaster…

“I can’t figure this out.”

I teach this to leaders… I spout it in talks and via social media platforms and I tell it to my kids.

Nothing successful arrives at your door without you first calling it out from passion, from the depths of who you are and you must believe in it.

Duh…. It was clear that I was trying to work with “What we had” which was not inspiring the best of me. I had settled for what was there, for mediocre – and mediocre is NOT my way.

Practicing what I preach, I spent last weekend, (almost a 48 hour exercise) redoing the entire project visuals from scratch…


I believe that without a brilliant team member and without other team members to encourage and support, I could not find the success I am having in so many ways.

It is the team who leads me through learning to be the leader I aspire to be!

Do what it is you believe in, trust your instincts, never accept less than exceptional and always, always, always follow what you know from the very depths of your heart.

Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership, Customer Service and Small business. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us only if you prefer to rise above the status-quo, care deeply about employee and customer experiences and truly believe in living and performing with excellence.


3 Ways to Identify a Consummate Complainer

Occasional complainers are folks who are unhappy about a particular situation and need to share with others how miserable they are. I will stress that everyone goes through a period of their lives where they feel like their power for change has been taken away and can relate to being in ‘complaint mode’ at one time or another.

The Consummate Complainer, however, is the person who consistently believes they do not have the power to create change themselves and practice a life-long habitual complaining attitude about every situation they’re in. We have all worked with one or another of these folks and most of us, quite frankly, grow weary of their mantra. Here are 3 ways to identify if someone you are working with is a consummate complainer.

  1. They believe if everyone else around them changed things would improve, but are unwilling to identify how they contribute negatively to the situation themselves.
  2. The consummate complainer needs to tell their story to as many people as possible, multiple times, and rarely to anyone who has the authority to change the situation or correct behaviour.
  3. The consummate complainer truly believes everyone else is wrong and they are right about the story they are telling.

Consummate complainers are often people who see the negative, imagine people are against them, and visualize the power of others to be stronger than their own. They play out the drama over and over again as though they are reliving it each time as a new sting directed at them personally. Every time they tell their story it grows in power within their mind and the complainer begins to feel victimized, especially if they gain sympathy or agreement.

Below is a list of things I wrote about back in January 2009 that might help you deal with the consummate complainer as a coworker in your office: (for the full post click here)

What A Co-Worker Can Do About A Complaining Employee

  1. Understand, people complain to folks who are willing to listen. This co-worker has come to you because they feel you’ll be a friendly listener. It’s your responsibility to tell them that while you understand they are upset, you truly believe it is the Leader in charge who needs to hear this for any change to occur.
  2. Cut the conversation as short as possible; don’t allow it to go on and on and on. Any excuse will do, your work deadline, your cell phone is ringing, you have a meeting in another office, just don’t allow it to drag you into the complaint abyss.
  3. Find a time when they’re not complaining and let them know that you have a difficult time with negative stories and need some positive ones to get you through the stressful chaos that is corporate or office life.
  4. Be a positive mentor willing to direct and coach a co-worker into solution-finding behaviour.
  5. Strike up co-worker relationships with other positive employees who will keep the healthy side of you fed. There is a great study by F. Gregory Ashby, Vivian V. Valentin and U.Turken from the UofCA in Santa Barbara/Stanford University that matches positive experience with productivity.

For more information on what you, the leader can do, there are strategies for you at the original post as well.

Looking for help dealing with employees who are difficult to lead, contact us at Strategic Sense.