The Company that Complains Together Stays Together
Is complaining actually that bad? Today, I argue that when done correctly, it can be the glue that holds groups together. Let me convince you.
At the small startup where I work, many of our employees work as sales representatives (Brand Ambassadors) across 30+ cities in Northern California. With everyone working in disparate locations, it’s natural for team members to feel alone.
To raise the company morale and to become better acquainted with one another, we recently held a company picnic in Dolores Park. We had never all been in the same place at the same time and something magical happened. (No, I’m not talking about when Parks & Rec tried to kick us out of the park because we represented a “corporation” or when one of our cars got towed.)
The magic was in the commiseration.
I’ve always thought that the problem with working alone is that employees don’t get to bond with coworkers. I’ve had the right hunch but maybe for the wrong reasons.
When Marissa Mayer decided to ban working from home, perhaps her real reasoning didn’t make it into the internal memos. Maybe she had discovered that employees need to come together in a physical workplace in order to complain together.
Bonding doesn’t just come from shared love or enthusiasm— it can also come from shared frustrations, e.g. shelf space in a grocery store, paperwork for festivals, and other particular problems that only my coworkers understand. And perhaps once we commiserate, together we can resolve the problems about which we were complaining in the first place.