This past week I watched my nephew play hockey. Although only ten years old he has spent years working hard to become the best he can be, and as captain of his team his efforts are definitely paying off.
I would like to tell you that I enjoyed watching his game, but unfortunately that was not the case. Situated directly behind me were two armchair athletes, presumably fathers of boys on one of the teams. Throughout the game the bantered and criticized the actions of the teams, referees and even the coaches. It was truly irritating to listen to, and difficult to tolerate.
Maybe I’m over-reacting, but I’ve found repeatedly that [Tweet “people who consistently complain and criticize others are often the last people to actually take action and do something about their perceptions and discontent.”]
I’ve also found that armchair athlete’s exist in business. Do you know who I’m referring to? These are the employees who complain and criticize the decisions that managers or business owners make or fail to make. They are quick to criticize and slow to take action. Worse yet their complaining is like the plague, creating a vortex that draws the attention of others around them. I refer to employees with these characteristics as an armchair employee.
So what can you do about an armchair employee?
My suggestion is that as the old saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemies closer. It may seem counter intuitive but you need to engage with these complainers, facing them head on but in a non-threatening way.
Ask them direct questions to draw out their ideas and engage them in finding solutions. Here are some examples of the questions I’ve found are most successful:
“What are your ideas on how we could address this issue?
“Where should we begin?”
“Who is best to lead this charge?”
“Can you work with others who share your view to come up with some solutions?”
So if you are dealing with armchair employees, give them your utmost attention. Ask direct questions to draw out solutions, or to erode their perceptions.
Question: What other ideas do you have to engage armchair employees? Please post your ideas below!
© Shawn Casemore 2014. All rights reserved.