These blog posts take an interesting question that I was asked in my daily Live Q&A Podcasts on Facebook and give it another look. To listen to the entire Q&A, check out the podcast version on iTunes or Soundcloud for free access anywhere, or on my Facebook Page.
The Question: “What is the Best Way to Squash Drama in the Workplace?”
Cutting right to the chase; drama (and gossip) flourishes in environments where communication could be improved, because that’s where hidden agendas can thrive. When there is a vacuum of information and clarity people guess … and guessing leaves wiggle room for all kinds of negativity to slip into the discussion. So if you have an environment that is heading down the direction of a Kardashian episode, look to address three areas of communication to douse the fire before it spreads:
Availability – Make yourself available, but also make your employees more available to each other. For yourself, one of the best things to do is known as Management by Walking Around. This allows you to have spontaneous conversations about issues that might be cropping up in the moment, but also helps you get a better pulse for culture and morale as you are able to hear and see more when you are in the operation more.
One area that gets overlooked in communication is how employees communicate with each other. Find ways to mix up cliques and orchestrate more dialogue. This could be a stand up meeting where you pose a question to the team, you could switch up seating arrangements, or just assign tasks to teams of people instead of individuals. When people communicate with others its easier to see the other as a person, and that creates a barrier to the creation of drama and gossip
Handle things transparently – The impetus for the drama is almost never a secret, so deal with it, send the e-mail, have the conversation, and clarify things as necessary. One aspect of this that isn’t discussed often is the fact that calling out drama in and of itself can decrease it. Drama usually flourishes in the shadows, in secret, and behind people’s back. When your team knows that these issues will be brought to light it creates a negative consequence for them. Of course, this last aspect is a side benefit to more open, honest, and transparent dialogue with the team because that’s what creates long-term healthy relationships.
Goals, goals, goals – What is a hidden agenda? It’s another word for a goal. I usually call out successes as the #1 thing leaders neglect talking about, #2 is goals. If your employees are all on the same team, then what is that team working toward? How do they know they’re winning? Talk about that more.
But beyond organizational goals is also individual goals. Who wants a promotion? Who wants to transfer to another department? Whose happy where they are? Who has other crazy goals. If everyone knows what everyone else’s personal goals are, and what the team’s goals are, then agendas aren’t hidden.Hey, if you get more than 10 or so people together there’s going to be some drama, how you deal with it determines whether it spreads like a flood or whether it ebbs and flows like the tide.
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