Do you have an employee on staff whose constant gripes are getting in the way of his or her job—and yours? One of the toughest things about restaurant management is learning how to handle complaining employees.

Here’s how to handle your constant complainers and get them back to work:

Create an environment where the complainer feels “heard.” Perhaps the complainer just wants someone to listen.

Don’t just pretend to listen. Open your ears and don’t pass judgment. Ask questions. It shows you have an interest — and you might even learn something useful.

Overcome the urge to argue. Just tell the complainer where you stand.

Negotiate a workable solution, if there is one. Ask the complainer what he or she wants done. Even better, ask how he or she would improve things.

Plainly tell the complainer what you can and can’t do about the complaints.

Don’t join in a gripe session. While listening, you may be tempted to gripe, too. Don’t. The complainer may enjoy the company of another complainer. But that kind of attention will only bring you more grief.

The final step in learning how to handle complaining employees is to simply ask the complainer to stop. When the employee shows up in your office repeatedly with the same minor complaints, be firm. Point out what steps you’re taking to solve the problems and explain that continually complaining is wasting everyone’s time and energy. When the complainer spends more time complaining than working, say, “I have talked with you about this problem several times. You know it can’t be solved. The best thing you can do is get back to work.”