Several years back I managed a group of very high-energy, spirited, vocal managers. One of the managers was particularly vocal on just about every issue. This manager, who I'll call "Vox", frequently complained to me about other managers, about how Vox's organization wasn't being rewarded appropriately, and how Vox's organization needed more people than Vox's peers. I did a lot of discussing with Vox about the issues that Vox faced but found that I would frequently give in to Vox's demands. Vox's peers became very frustrated not only with Vox but also with me because I was showing preferential treatment to Vox. We would be in meetings and Vox would start complaining about something which would lead into how Vox's team was more important than peer teams, and how Vox's team should be given more in compensation because they were more talented than the rest of the team. Vox was the squeaky wheel, and I would grease it just to stop it from squeaking. I not only allowed Vox to be the squeaky wheel, but unwittingly encouraged it because I gave Vox what Vox wanted. Everyone was frustrated with me. Bad on me
The answer is clear: don't grease the squeaky wheel. As leaders it is important that we listen to our employees but that we don't show favoritism or preference toward a particular employee simply because he whines the most. Listen to the squeaky wheel's concerns, make rational decisions regarding his concerns, and explain not only the "what" behind your decision but also the "why" behind the decision to the squeaky wheel. Most importantly, don't just give in. If you reward the squeaky wheel, you'll not only reinforce his behavior but you'll create other squeaky wheels in your organization because they will see that you grease squeaky wheels.
Put the oil can away. Don't oil the squeaky wheel.
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