There that person is, the one that always has a complaint. The one that has been cheated out of things all of their life and everything has been unfair to them. Some people are just filled with discontent. Some people actually seem to want to stay in this state, although they would deny this. Unfortunately, many of these individuals want you to be miserable too. Misery loves company and they are seeking your company to join them.
Having been in business for over 35 years, I have been witness to and I have worked with many who have displayed this description. As a fellow employee we must be aware and cautious of allowing ourselves to get caught up with the misery. Tread lightly, as many of the complaints, arguments, and items of discontent sound so convincing and some may have merit. But there is a way, a place, and a time to voice and bring about any that you may have.
The next danger we face is how we manage to this as leaders. Early in my career at one place of my employment I tried to win a group of these employees over, but they were never satisfied. The next manager that replaced me had more experience, quickly defined their bad character, gave them a chance to change, and then removed them from the business. This was a valuable learning experience for me. Misery loves company.
Another danger, that as a leader we face, is having someone with strong talents yet they are a misery loves company-type of person. The danger is we believe we can manage around the misery part, the complaints and discontent, because the talent part has value. Unfortunately that misery, complaining, and discontent will still spread. Why? Because misery loves company, and they will always look to find it.
In business we must define, create, communicate, and execute a process that we welcome input, feedback, ideas, innovation, and critique. But within that process is the professional way we allow for this to be done. If I have not told my boss my concerns I should not be telling others. Five Dysfunctions of a Team describes what is called a First Team environment. For managers this is awesome as you actually build the trust to disagree. But as leaders we must have that openness on how we receive a message so the messenger feels safe to bring it and not be apprehensive.
So as we lead, and as we believe we implemented the right openness for communication and feedback, how do we manage that person who just loves misery? How has the lack of taking action cost us in the past? How did the person bring others on board to their misery and did our problem just grow larger? Yes, misery loves company.
As a person who had a cancer scare and whose family history brings the concern that it must be monitored closely I do not speak of cancer lightly, as it took my father. But I believe that once we clearly define someone as a misery loves company-type of person, and we have done everything to confront it and change it but it still persists, we do what we do with cancer – we cut it out. If not, it is going to spread. If we try to medicate the situation because the person has talent, the problem does not go away. This is why hiring, managing, and keeping people of good character are so important. We owe it to those people to remedy a cure. Why? Because misery does love company, and they are looking for more.