Drama – every workplace has it. It can be annoying, but it can also cause bigger problems, including a loss to the bottom line.
Three Ways Workplace Drama Impacts the Organization
1. The Bottom Line – The more time workers spend gossiping and stirring the pot, the less time they spend working. This affects productivity and therefore, the bottom line.
2. Respect – Leaders are expected to control workplace drama, even by those who take part in it. If a leader isn’t doing anything to control the drama or worse, taking part in it, then they are likely not respected as a leader.
3. Talent Retention – Good workers want to be successful. If they are in a negative environment where they are not able to thrive, they are likely to leave. They will seek out a culture that does not tolerate such drama.
Common Managerial Mistakes that can Lead to Drama
1. Failing to Develop New Leaders – Newly selected leaders are often promoted because they excelled operationally or technically, but they often do not have experience or education on leadership. Too often they initially try to be everyone’s friend due to the desire to be liked.
2. Avoiding Performance Conversations – Many leaders do not have the confidence or the education on how to perform a performance evaluation. They worry about hurt feelings. Managers should be trained on how to handle performance issues and how to give ongoing feedback. An employee’s lack of performance and the lack of leadership addressing it often triggers drama.
3. Taking it Personally – The longer a manager allows a problem to go on, he or she is likely to begin to internalize it and start to take the issue personally. Managers should never take an issue personally, but instead talk to the employee to discover the reason for the behavior. This goes back to number two, which is the importance of having ongoing performance conversations.
4. Making Assumptions – When anger or resentment is present, it’s easy to assume willful intent on the part of the employee. But if leaders look at the problem without resentment, they are likely to find it’s a lack of skill or education causing the problem. Never assume the bad behavior is being done intentionally. Additional training or just pointing it out might solve the issue.
5. Using Accountability the Wrong Way – Accountability is about measurement; responsibility is about ownership. Both need to present to have a successful employee. Too often the two are blended together and seen as one. If a manager can’t get an employee to “own” a job, no demand of accountability is going to motivate that employee.
How to Stop the Drama
1. Don’t Engage – Leaders need to stay away from the drama and not engage. Leaders set the tone. When faced with drama, put a stop to it.
2. Face-to-Face Interaction – When drama becomes an issue, leaders should confront all parties involved, in person. If an employee wants to complain about another employee or department, leaders should only allow them to do so with all parties present so that each side can be heard.
3. Document – If you have repeat offenders, document their behavior.
4. Take Action – Leaders need to enforce numbers one and two. Leaders should encourage teamwork, develop employees, and promote harmony. By taking action anytime drama presents itself, you can stop it in its tracks.
While drama in the workplace will likely never go away completely, with the right leadership and culture it can be minimized.
Additional ASE Resources
Managing Problem Employees – This course demonstrates how to utilize various approaches to communicating and documenting for poor performance, violation of work rules, bad behavior, unprofessional conduct, communication, and more. Wednesday, November 14, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Register here.
Principles and Practices of Supervision I - This course teaches the skills necessary to excel as a supervisor. Participants will learn practical tools and knowledge to use immediately on the job to be more effective. Ideal for new managers and supervisors. Thursday, November 1, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Register here. Or Tuesday, December 4, 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Register here.
Supervisory Survival Skills - This course will define the role and responsibilities of a supervisor. Participants will practice techniques to develop relationships, deliver feedback, delegate, make decisions and conduct effective meetings. Thursday, December 13, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Register here.
Sources: meridethelliottpowell.com, smartbrief.com