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Six Steps to Eliminate Workplace Drama

I cannot think any other evil which can succeed in destroying a culture’s heart more than workplace drama. Workplace drama is the grim reaper that moves through your organization with a sickle, zapping the energy of everything it touches, leaving a trail of confused, frustrated and resentful people. Simultaneously, overall morale plummets, processes break down, deliverables begin to slip, and everyone is pointing fingers. And sadly, it is your customer that suffers the most. Workplace drama leads to disengaged employees and disengaged employees provide poor customers service. Ultimately, it is the branch, department or business unit that workplace drama drives into a death spiral…

Here are six guiding principles designed to nip workplace drama in the bud. Pull your team together and explain the following:

  1. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. There is no middle ground. There will always be “sparks” or issues that show themselves from time to time. Explain to them that each employee holds in their hands two buckets when confronting an issue, one is filled with gasoline, the other with water. Every time there is a “spark,” they make a conscience decision of which one they will pour on that particular issue.

  2. We have only two types of employees in our company:those who serve the customers and those who serve those who serve the customers. Make sure everyone knows that no none does it alone and that each are an integral part of the team. Our ultimate focus is the customer and each position should contribute to the customer in a positive way. A significant portion of drama comes from the tension associated with different positions. See #1.

  3. Fix the problem, not the blame. There will be challenges and points of failure. The key is to make them “successful failures.” To have a successful failure, you must have personal accountability. Instead of blaming others, you must look in the mirror the first. In sales, when we lose an opportunity, the only acceptable response is: “I got outsold, and these are the adjustments I will make going forward.” Reserve the right to get smarter. See #1.

  4. Either we all get across the finish line together or none of us do. Instill the concept of team in your department, office or company. Remind them all that no one does it alone and that no one is bigger than the company. Live it. See #2

  5. Be a demanding partner. As long as people are fact-based and data-driven, anyone should be able to appropriately challenge anyone else…including the boss. See #3.

  6. If we continue to have drama, then obviously, we are over-staffed. This was derived from management guru Peter Drucker who said “if you have drama then you have too many people.” People’s workday should be filled with contribution to the organization’s overall vision and mission, not tearing each other down. We have a finite amount of time and a finite amount of capital. Workplace drama eats away at both and no good ever comes of it. Unfortunately, you may need to take a hard look at your team and determine which people need to go. This will send a clear message to the organization that if 1 through 5 are not an integral part of your organization, there are no “sacred cows.”

Dealing with workplace drama is can be exhausting for the leader. It has the potential to deplete your “psychological stamina” and to destroy your motivation. Often it leaves leaders wondering: “Why did I go into management in the first place?” “Why can’t these people just focus on the task at hand? I didn’t sign up to run tots and blocks.”

At Butler Street, we believe that leadership development is the foundation to talent development. Effectively training your management on the needs and wants of an ever changing workforce is critical to maintaining a strategic competitive advantage. Click on CONTACT and let’s talk about how we can help you develop your leaders.

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