I work at a bank. I recently became a permanent employee where I worked as a temporary employee for 6 months. The company recently switched to a new core system, and there are a lot of problems to fix. Some problems are bigger than others. The co-worker who has trained me for the past 6 months is a very vocal opponent of the new system and is constantly telling me how bad the system is and how management is not transparent with what is being done to fix the problems.

I'm on the fence because it's like I am a new employee and I want to do a good job, and I am willing to do what is asked of me with no complaints so I can keep the job. This co-worker has been on the job for over 30 years and has been through several core conversions. So, she's a veteran and I would think a good judge of how a core system should work. Due to the number of problems arising with member's accounts, our department now has to work on tasks to rectify these accounts in addition to our standard duties. This co-worker is not happy about this and is constantly complaining. I get an earful because I often have to go to her for help in resolving these tasks. Listening to her is draining and lowers my morale. My attitude is just to fix the problems and move onto the next one and get it done. My co-worker's attitude is if management hadn't gotten a cheaper, inferior system, we wouldn't have these problems, and she has said she will get to the tasks when I can, so not making them a priority.

She's a veteran and very knowledgeable, and I still want to learn from her, but being around her negativity is a drag. I think if I confront her and tell her she's being really negative and not helping, I will make an enemy and she won't help me anymore. I am considering talking to the manager about her and possibly getting some pointers on how to deal with her. But then I think doing that may damage my career and the manager may not want to take sides. But then again she may be helpful. Is it a good idea to go to management to complain about this complaining co-worker?

  • Are you stuck with this person forever? Is there any chance that you could ask to move somewhere else or work with other teams/people?
    – Touchdown
    Dec 16, 2022 at 9:17
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    I can guarantee that an encouraging word to make the best of things is likely to go down a lot better than chatting with their manager. Dec 16, 2022 at 9:22
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    It seems like you are trying to make a significant change to someone's personality here. However justified that is, do you think her manager could do that as a result of your complaint? Dec 16, 2022 at 20:15
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    As the accepted answer doesn't address it, if you still have questions about her deprioritizing helping you, I recommend asking that as a separate question if it is still something you are seeking help with.
    – David S
    Dec 16, 2022 at 22:31
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    I am all set. I never looked at the issue as me not having empathy for what she is going through. A lot of the answers opened my eyes to looking at the situation in a different perspective. Dec 16, 2022 at 23:33

5 Answers 5


No, her behavior is normal and expected

The company recently switched to a new core system, and there are a lot of problems to fix.

Normally, I would be opposed to employees who complain a lot because it can make for a negative or even toxic work environment, but what you are describing is very normal and expected during a transitional period. Whenever a company changes over any core piece of software, it creates a transitional period that typically lasts between 3-24 months depending on how drastic the changeover is.

During this time period, employee complaints normally skyrocket regardless of if the new system is objectively better or worse because every single change in workflow constitutes a tool that you have taken away from your employees. These are people who have spent years optimizing thier skills and techniques to succeed using the tools they had. Changing core software like this is like going up to a master carpenter that has spent his whole life learning to shape wood, and telling him he needs to be a blacksmith now. Spending the time and energy to master a thing, and then having to start over as a novice is a frustrating experience no matter how level headed you normally are.

It is also important to consider than she is trying to train you on a system that does not jive with her preferred workflow; so, that in-of-itself is a constant reminder to her of all the tools she no longer has at her disposal because she has to actively consider her own workflow as she trains you.

Why these employees like this are needed during a transitional period

management is not transparent with what is being done to fix the problems.

This quote tells me that she is not just complaining to you, but to management as well. This is VERY important during a transition because it means that the people in charge are receiving concrete feedback about the new product. If no one complains, nothing gets better. Whether she believes it or not, these complaints are probably finding thier way back to IT, developers, and managers. If employee complaints can demonstrate that the new product costs the company more in lost productivity than it gains in lower overhead, then it could convince those with the power to do so to either switch back or develop solutions to solve the problems.

Whenever I've been involved in a product launch, the worst thing is not getting tons of complaints in the first few months, it's waiting a year or two before anyone tells me the product created a problem. If I know right away that there is a problem, I can fix easily. If I have to come back to a system that's been live for a long time, I won't remember all the details of the project, there could be millions of entries with bad data in them, etc. Complaining veterans make for the best Beta testers and are a very important part of this transitional process.

Your feelings are normal too

You have a different perspective than she does because you never used the old software. No tool was ever taken away from you, only given to you. None of your experience is being wasted and none of your daily tasks have been made arbitrarily harder for you. This naturally makes empathizing with her very difficult for you because from you perspective, nothing is "wrong".

I would not suggest jumping on her band wagon, but when you understand where she is coming from, it should be a lot easier to just accept her as is, and her attitude will no longer be such a downer.

I would expect your co-worker to continue to complain a lot over the next few months, but those complaints will naturally fade away as she gets more comfortable with the new system and problems get fixed.

In conclusion, it sounds like the manager is already aware of her aggravation, and reporting her is likely to only increase valid workspace frustrations. Sometimes employees who complain so much that they negatively impact working conditions are worth discussing with management, but I do not believe this is one of those times.

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    Thank you for your indepth insight. I have really taken your words to heart. Dec 16, 2022 at 17:19
  • @DiligentWorker25 Great to hear! I hope things work out for both of you.
    – Nosajimiki
    Dec 16, 2022 at 19:53
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    Very good answer. Change is never easy. Every employee plays an important role. Despite sharing knowledge it’s also important to highlight what is better, that not everything is bad and how the change fits in the bigger picture. This is something OP can actively communicate to her colleague. Dec 18, 2022 at 18:57
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    We have a key user with that reputation, when he confirmed no issues during testing we knew we made it. Dec 19, 2022 at 8:13
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    @fectin haha, you are correct... I think I very strongly implied my answer but did not spell it out. Updating to more clearly say that reporting her is not recommended.
    – Nosajimiki
    Dec 19, 2022 at 14:24

I'd advise against complaining to your manager. It sounds as though your co-worker isn't exactly holding back on her views and your manager will undoubtably be aware of the issues of this system. So, your complaining about her complaining won't really solve anything at all (and only really serves to label you also as a complainer).

As your experience grows, your needs on your co-worker will diminish so that you'll end up processing these requests yourself and taking on more of the frustrations with this system.

If you do speak with your manager, bring ideas for solutions rather than more problems, this is a good way of improving your career.

Understand that complaining about things is common in many workplaces and people use this as a way of relieving stress. Accept it, join in a bit if you feel the need, but don't let it affect your own job.

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    "solutions" instead of "problems" - that is a good thing.
    – virolino
    Dec 16, 2022 at 9:55
  • @virolino I find it is overused by people who are actually causing the problem and just don't like the available solutions. For example, in this case one obvious solution seems to be that management fixes some of the problems with the system........................................ Dec 19, 2022 at 16:28
  • @user3067860: I agree with you. Too many "creative" solutions can be serious trouble. However, sometimes people concentrate on the problem, instead of attempting to fix the problem. I was referring to the latter.
    – virolino
    Dec 20, 2022 at 6:31

Telling her that you don't like her behaviour might make an enemy; there is a small chance, but many people don't realise how their behaviour is taken by others and are quite willing to change. On the other hand, talking to her manager is much more impactful and much more likely to make an enemy.

If you don't tell her that she affects you, she won't know and she won't change. People don't read your mind. The very first step to solving problems is to tell someone that a problem exists. So unless you have a good reason to believe she will retaliate, go and tell her what you think.

The other possibility is to ignore it. If you decide she is a professional moaner, try to ignore her moaning. Many people complain about things not because they want change, or help with a change, but because it makes them feel better if someone listens to their complaints. She may be like that. Moaning about management makes her feel better. The best you can do is pretend to be listening and ignore it otherwise.


I think if I confront her and tell her she's being really negative and not helping, I will make an enemy and she won't help me anymore.

That is possible. But complaining about your coworker to a manager behind her back is even more likely to make her think of you as an enemy.

So I still think you should probably talk to your coworker instead. What matters here is both what you say and how you say it. Don't sound angry or hostile, but try to instead present yourself as sympathetic to her feelings and complaints, while clearly explaining to her that you are not the person she should be complaining to: you didn't create the new system, you didn't have any say in the management choosing it, you can't do anything to get rid of it and, most importantly, she doesn't need to convince you of how bad it is, because you've already heard her and at this point she's just preaching to the choir.

(You don't necessarily have to say that you agree with all her complaints, if you don't. But you should let her know that she's already got her point through to you and that, even if you don't fully agree, you do understand how vehemently she feels about the system and there's no need for her to belabor the point anymore. Of course, if you can honestly say that you agree with her, and maybe engage in some shared commiseration, so much the better. But the point you need to get across is that complaining to you about something you already know and can't do anything about is just wasting both her energy and yours.)

All that said, even if you get her to stop complaining to you so much, you might not actually get her to be very helpful with the new system, either. You write that:

My co-worker's attitude is if management hadn't gotten a cheaper, inferior system, we wouldn't have these problems, and she has said she will get to the tasks when I can, so not making them a priority.

It's possible that your coworker thinks that the new system is so bad that there's no point in trying to improve it, work around its problems or even learn how to use it more efficiently, since (she believes that) management will soon have to throw the new system away and either reinstate the old system or adopt yet another new one. Thus, in her mind, any effort spent on improving processes based on the new system is likely to soon be wasted work anyway. From that perspective, if the alternatives are that either:

  1. you and her both spend some time together figuring out how to get something done with the new system (which she believes will be gone soon anyway), or
  2. you twiddle your thumbs while she gets some actual work done in spite of (and likely bypassing) the broken system, while you both wait for it to be replaced,

she may see option #2 as the better choice, as she believes neither option will result in any lasting process improvements, but the latter one at least results in some important and urgent tasks actually getting done.

I'm not saying that this viewpoint is the correct or most productive one (although in some cases it might actually be). Certainly the management who originally chose the new system and are still driving its adoption are unlikely to see it that way. And it's even possible that your coworker's actual opinion isn't quite as extreme as the one I've attributed to her above. But I wanted to bring it up anyway just to give you a possible new perspective on the situation and to show that, from such a perspective, your coworker's behavior might actually be motivated by perfectly reasonable concerns about business priorities rather than by any personal animosity towards you (or the company) or even any intrinsic cantankerousness or irrational change aversion.

To paraphrase and extend Hanlon's razor a bit, you should neither ascribe to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity, nor to stupidity what can be explained by a reasonable difference in perspective and background assumptions.


If I were you, I would do the following things, in the order presented.

  1. Explain to your colleague that you sympathize with her, and that you find the problems annoying too, but that complaining will not solve those problems. Next, explain to her that for you, it is an additional inconvenience to listen to people complaining about the obvious problems - that you prefer to find the way to do your job, while being with your own thoughts.
  2. Continue with 1 for a while - nobody can change suddenly. If the woman seems cooperative, you do not need to give the entire explanation every time. It might become enough to just remind her of the talking - sometimes a simple smile might be enough.
  3. Report to the manager that you are not comfortable discussing much with your colleague - but this might be a bit dangerous. Or it might be impossible to solve things. If you have to work next to your colleague, and if she does not care to stop, then you might create a lose-lose-lose situation - for you, your colleague and your manager.

I am only saying, that only you can judge the facts and decide exactly how to go on. It should not be the end of the world.

Note: when you talk to your manager, do not "complain", but "ask for advice" on what you can do to improve the situation. In this way, you still keep the problem to yourself, instead of throwing it on the shoulders of your boss - while still informing your boss about it.

Lateral thinking: instead of being angry at your colleague, join her occasionally in her rants. Breaks did not kill anyone before, they will not kill you either. It might even improve your quality of life - especially if those breaks are not too long and not too often.

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    I just want to emphasis point 2. We often expect massive shifts in mentality quickly after speaking with someone, but these can take time, so best to hope for small slow improvements! Dec 16, 2022 at 9:24

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