The Squeaky Wheel
Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
Imagine yourself a member of a large team. As a member of this team, you are aware of many problems with the team itself as well as the problems the team has with the authority that governs the team. What do you do about it? Do you play it safe and say nothing, or do you go to the authority figure with your list of grievances? There is an old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”; however, the squeaky wheel is also the first one to get replaced.
Unless you are in some extreme circumstances, such as some military organizations or legal situations (high school can often fall into this category), it is generally NOT a good idea to hide or bury your concerns, but it is best to bring them to the attention of a superior or managerial figure within the organization or group. However, there is a difference between making your concerns known and being the “squeaky wheel.”
The squeaky wheel complains whereas the concerned group member gives feedback.
The squeaky wheel complains about every issue on his or her mind without carefully considering it, whereas the concerned group member gives feedback on only those issues of real concern that he or she has carefully considered.
The squeaky wheel is concerned with only him or herself, whereas the concerned group member knows the only good solution is a win-win situation for all parties involved.
The squeaky wheel is seen by the authority figure(s) as the squeaky wheel that needs replacing, whereas the concerned group member is seen by the authority figure(s) as a respected leader of the group who cares about the success of the group and the organization.
Whether you are a customer who complains in hopes of getting coupons, discounts or deals, or an employee who complains in hopes of getting better working conditions, fewer hours, or more money, consider changing your approach. Here are some suggestions:
- It is not what you say; it is how you say it. Remember the immortal words of Lincoln, who said, “a drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.”
- Pick your battles. If we all look hard enough, we can all find many things to complain about in all areas of our lives. Learn to focus on the positive and work on solving the more pressing concerns with the authority figure(s) involved. You will be taken more seriously, and your points will be considered more valid, rather than just being seen as a “complainer.”
- Make it one issue. If possible, combine your issues or problems into one larger issue and break down the issue together with the authority figure(s). Approaching someone with “I just have one issue...” goes over better than the series of “and another thing....”
- Prove that you are looking out for more than your own best interest. To be effective at making changes that will benefit you and your group, you must demonstrate that you are looking out for the best interests of everyone involved, and do it sincerely. If you can’t honestly find a way to create a win-win situation, then it may be best to keep quiet and let another team member who can, do the talking.
- Drop the “us versus them” mentality. Once again, if positive changes are to be made, all parties have to benefit. See the big picture. See the extended team.
As the squeaky wheel, you will get attention, but it will be negative attention. You will be associated with complaints, troubles, and headaches. Change your attitude to one of creating a win-win situation where you have the best interests of all parties in mind. Once you do this, you will no longer be the wheel that needs replacement; you will be the leader who deserves respect.
Take Your Year To Success To the Next Level
If you like what you are reading, please consider these options in addition to this free course. They include a hardcopy of the book and an intensive course with action steps, assignments, and personal coaching from Bo.
- Buy the Book. Year To Success - Available in hardcover, signed by the author. Also available in ebook, paperback, and audio from Amazon.com.
- Enroll in Bo's Life Mastery Online Course. This is a course that covers hundreds of life-enhancing topics that they never taught in school, but should. This is more than a course on self-improvement; it is a course on mastering life.
- Business Consulting. Schedule your complimentary 15-minute evaluation session with Bo.
Have a podcast or know someone who does? Putting on a conference? Dr. Bennett is available for interviews and public speaking events. Contact him directly here.
Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)