|  April 20, 2015

Who should I vent to about issues at work?

One of my highlights from last week was co-hosting a Lunch & Learn at Yelp with my friend Brandi. There were a lot of great questions on topics like being professional in a casual workplace, mentorship, and how you know that you’ve chosen the right career path.

Then someone brought up this really good question:

When there are issues at work, who is the best person to vent to? Is it a coworker, your boss, a friend, a family member? Or someone else?

No job is 100% perfect. Even for those of us who love what we do there are ups, downs, and days that feel a bit “meh”. Some degree of venting can be helpful. You can get the events of the day (or week) off your chest, feel better about it, and then move on.

Other times, venting can become poisonous and have a really negative effect on a team.

My advice, is that you should vent to different people for different issues.

issues at work - who to vent to

The slightly annoying, but relatable issue

Every workplace and different type of job has different nuances and annoyances! My best friend probably isn’t going to understand the pain of having my favorite candidate turn down a job offer, but my co-workers certainly will.

In this case, venting to co-workers can feel very helpful and satisfying. A bonus here is someone who has more experience than you do might be able to give you a helpful tip on how to handle your issue or cope with them.

The really annoying work stuff

Venting to co-workers becomes problematic when it turns to gossip, or becomes so negative that it creates a poisonous environment amongst the team.

Not only is repeat venting (about the same issues) unprofessional, but it eventually becomes annoying to your coworkers if they’re not in the same boat. In many cases, it can get back to the leaders of your team which won’t reflect well on you.

It’s one thing to let off a little steam, but if you’re unhappy in your job, with your boss, or with the way things are in general, you don’t have unlimited opportunities to vent about it.

This is the type of of venting best done with people you really trust and likely don’t work at your company (family, friends, etc.)

That being said, if you’re in bad work situation and it’s not going away, those people are going to get sick of hearing about it too. It may be time to do something about it or move on.

The solvable issue

Perhaps there is something bugging you about your job or work situation that you know there is a good solution for. If you want to work on some different types of projects, need more/different support to get your job done, or have an idea about something that can be done differently, talk to your boss.

Managers want to keep their employees happy and motivated. If you do better work, it means there will be better output for the team as a whole.

I find that people get really nervous to bring up ideas or potential changes to their managers, but it’s always worth having an open dialogue. When approached in the right way, most managers are really receptive to changes that will make you happier at work.

The sensitive issue

If there is something going on at work that makes you uncomfortable, is clearly violating a policy, or is creating a really hostile work environment, you should turn to your HR team.

I know there is sometimes a negative stigma that comes along with this, but there really shouldn’t be. Everyone deserves to be in a happy and professional environment and if something or someone is getting in the way of that, it’s worth bringing up.

As someone who used to work in HR and has worked with some super talented teams, I highly encourage building a strong relationship with your HR team. They can help you navigate your career, tough issues, and ultimately that’s what they’re there for!

Who do you turn to when you have issues at work? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


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