If you’re like me, you hate drama. Not the “Law & Order” kind of drama (I’ve always loved that show), but the kind of drama that rears its ugly head at work.
- Destructive gossip that tears apart a group and leaves an individual’s self-esteem shredded
- Making emotional mountains out of policy mole hills
- Saying one thing in person, but then getting stabbed in the back when you’re not around
- Getting “thrown under the bus”
- Lying about another person which only ramps up negative energy
Who likes any of this? You don’t. I don’t. Our teams don’t. We all hate it. But drama does happen. And how can we effectively deal with this obstacle?
- Don’t give them a stage. If you know a person loves to drum up drama, don’t give them an audience. Refuse to listen to them. If they begin ranting about someone, just walk away. Or maybe (if you’re courageous enough), confront the dramatist.
Talking point: “Since you aren’t this person’s direct supervisor, this isn’t appropriate talk. If you care enough about this individual you’re talking about, go to their supervisor and share your concerns with them.” The dramatist will most likely ignore this suggestion, but they will be quiet around you.
- Be a control freak. I mean this in a good way. You are the manager. Manage your environment. It is perfectly right to inform your staff that you won’t tolerate back-stabbing gossip among your team. This means when you hear it, stop it. It can be draining, but you need to stop this negative behavior every time you hear it. Eventually, your team will come to realize that you are serious.
Talking point: “You know this person you are talking about? They report to me – just like all of you do. It is my responsibility to address issues with them. This isn’t your job. If you would like to talk with me about your own performance, I’m all ears. Otherwise, this conversation is over.” If the dramatist insists on this conversation, then be a broken record and keep repeating this talking point. Folks will eventually scatter at this.
- Be the solution, not the problem. If you hate drama, then don’t create it. Don’t get sucked up into the vortex of negative talk. Even if it comes to you, refuse to participate. You are the leader. Lead by example.
Talking point: “Hey, this isn’t appropriate for us to discuss. Let’s get back to work.”
- Speak the truth. Nothing kills productivity, morale, and trust like lying. If you allow this to creep in, you will destroy trust among your team.
Talking point: “What you are saying is not true. I know better, and I believe most everyone here knows better. What you are saying is more harmful than helpful. Before you get yourself in trouble, you need to stop.” When your team knows that this is how you deal with hurtful speech, you will gain trust and respect from them.
You can create your work environment. The goal is not to get the team to become best friends. The goal is to have a professional atmosphere where obstacles to effective results are reduced or eliminated. Anyone on your team can be pleasant and professional. Everyone on your team deserves to have a safe workplace. It is your responsibility to maintain this kind of workplace.