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The top 5 workplace gripes we hear on training courses

It is the privilege of being a trainer (OK, also occasionally the curse) that people feel comfortable enough in the confines of the room to ‘have a good moan’. Anything from stories about the journey to the training session, embellished to sound like a cross between “The Road” and “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, to intimate details of a personal condition – hard to stomach for the audience and hard to follow for the trainer. But mostly we hear complaints about their company.

So, I thought I’d share the top five things that people moan about in the classroom:

workplace gripes

The Management

This is a group often banded together with no discrimination or allowance for individual competence. In fact, they have no individual identity whatsoever. They are a unanimously uncommunicative and self-interested bunch, who sold the little intelligence they had to the devil in return for a position on the board. Any reference to this group on a training course will be preceded without fail by the question: “Are The Management doing this course?”


I have never been a fan of hot-desking. I do understand the cost of desk space, but I also understand the cost of demotivation. I’ve had people tell me they can spend an hour looking for a desk before turning around and going home; that they can never find meeting space, and have colleagues they’ve never met because they don’t know where they’ll be on any given day. Training sessions in hot-desk hothouses are like social reunions, as people slowly start putting faces to names they’ve been emailing for the past five years.


A serious issue. While many organisations are tackling it head on, it is noticeable in the classroom that some aren’t.  On our programmes such as Resilience or Wellbeing, booked by clients that address these issues, we cover stress, and while participants talk about it, it is less of a gripe. In contrast, in organisations where we do not deliver course material relating to stress it comes up more often as a problem people want to talk about.

My Manager

Different to 1) above, this complaint has a very specific target. The actions of our direct supervisors polarise our experiences at work. They cause happiness or stress; cause us to stay or leave; they are the objects of admiration or derision. The behaviour of the participant’s manager is described in detail behind a very thin veil of secrecy, so that although no names are mentioned, everyone else knows who they are talking about – well, everyone except the trainer!

The air conditioning

Most air-conditioning systems have been set up so that there is a short bus ride between the control panel and the room in which the temperature is being controlled. Even when the room and the dial are in the same postcode, everyone knows that turning the knob in any direction will only make matters worse. Consequently, people stare at the single button as if it were the controls of the Starship Enterprise, before walking away and grabbing a sweater.

These are my top five, but they may be skewed by the recency effect, maybe I’ve missed something…

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