Recently, a friend of mine was dealing with a complaint.  The complaint did not have a lot of merit. But the complainant was very forceful and dogmatic and the complaints person in this company said that they would follow up the matter with Senior Management. 

Senior Management looked at each other and tried to work out why this matter had ended up with them.  The evidence did not warrant their attention. A lot of time was taken up dealing with a non-issue. 

Which in itself highlights a number of issues: 

  • The Complainant did not understand the process and rules associated with this particular issue. 
  • The Complainant had not been given adequate information from the outset – so they had made some inaccurate assumptions. 
  • The Complaints Officer did not understand the issue properly either and was therefore swayed by the degree of unhappiness of the Complainant. 
  • The Complaints Officer was not adequately trained as a Complaints Officer to be a proper gatekeeper for senior management. 

The consequences of this situation was that:

  • The Complainant spent a lot of time and energy worrying about something that they did not understand.
  • The Complainant may have made a different decision if she had properly understood the process from the outset. 
  • The Complaint may never have eventuated if the Complainant understood the process and therefore save the Complaints Officer from having to deal with it at all. 
  • Senior Management wasted valuable time dealing with an issue that was a non-issue. 
  • The Complaints officer was potentially embarrassed by the outcome and being shown up for not understanding the issue and the process. 
  • The Complainant is now even angrier and their behaviour may now escalate due to the lack of a positive outcome. 

So this non-problem highlighted a number of problems.  But because everyone is thinking that it is a non-problem – except the Complainant – the real issues might not be addressed. 

Conflict is a gift. It tells you there is a problem. Don’t ignore it. 

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