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Workplace griping: The key release valve your culture lacks

by Contributor

And you vented (there are less polite verbs). Your buddy let you go at it for a while, then talked you down from the proverbial ledge. De-stressed, you were able to get back to whatever you needed to get back to.

The value of venting

Venting serves the same purpose in organizational dynamics that the relief valve serves on a pressure cooker: It keeps the pressure at a level low enough that the whole apparatus doesn’t explode.

It’s a cumulative effect. One employee who needs to vent and has no one to vent to makes the aggregate workforce an increment crabbier. Two? A bit more.

The effect is non-linear, and there’s no tracking metric that lets managers know crankiness is reaching critical mass. And yet, as aggravations accumulate and venting opportunities are harder to find, employees’ ability to collaborate slowly erodes. The mathematics of catastrophe theory take over, and, as with Paul Ehrlich’s legendary rivet-popper, with no clear warning the wings come off.

In most businesses, HR has, by now, instituted training for those managers who oversee virtual or hybrid workforces, to encourage them to institute analogs to the in-person practices that are easily lost in the transition to a digital workforce.

Analogs, that is, to such practices as monthly all-hands meetings, regular one-on-one updates, and — and this is collaboration-suite nirvana — the chemistry of in-person whiteboarding sessions.

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