How to Make Employee Complaining Go Away Forever

Jay Wilkinson solved complaining at Firespring with two simple tools. Employees don’t vent in the halls—they solve their own issues.

Firespring, #829 on the Inc. 5000 List of America's Fastest-Growing Companies, runs the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS), also known as Traction. Companies running EOS get employees solving their own problems at the department level with two tools: Issues List and IDS.

Imagine Bob and Jane from your marketing team walking down the hall toward the water cooler.

Bob: “The salespeople aren’t using the new marketing materials. I wish those [insert colorful descriptor here] would shape up.”

Jane: “OK, put it on the Issues List.”

Bob (sheepishly): “Ya got me. I will.”

And the complaining stops right there. Bob’s confident his issue will get addressed and solved at marketing’s next weekly Level 10 Meeting.

Make issues go away forever

Bob knows the “salespeople not using new materials” issue will get solved with IDS, a simple tool teams use to set issues up, knock ‘em down, and make ‘em go away forever. Here’s how it works:

  • Identify: What’s the real issue here, the disease causing the symptoms? Let’s focus on that.
  • Discuss: With the real issue identified, everyone shares their best clarifying questions and ideas once—because more than once is politicking.
  • Solve: Someone volunteers to take action to solve the problem by next week, because we have a bias toward action.

Stop fighting fires

With Issues List and IDS, you can become fire preventers rather than fire fighters. Unsolved issues are like millstones around your neck, weighing your business down for weeks, months, quarters, years. It’s exhausting—but not at companies like Firespring, and Executive Travel (#4915 on the Inc. 5000 list), and Bulu Box (Silicon Prairie News’ Startup of the Year).

Business success is in direct proportion to your ability to solve issues. Successful people are just really good at solving their issues. Successful people use EOS.


Issues List and IDS are part of the Entrepreneurial Operating System: A complete, proven system with simple tools that help you get three things we call vision, traction, and healthy.

  • Vision: Get leaders 100% on the same page with where you’re going and how to get there.

  • Traction: Work with leaders on discipline and accountability, to execute the vision.

  • Healthy: Build a healthy and cohesive Leadership Team.

From there, as goes your leadership team, so goes the rest of your organization. Your entire organization gets crystal-clear on your vision; much more disciplined and accountable in executing your vision; gains consistent traction; and moves forward shoulder to shoulder together as a healthy, functional, cohesive team.

Text or call me at (402) 202-2820 if any of this resonates with you. I’d love to show you and your leadership team how to get vision, traction, and healthy right away.