March '20

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16 THE SHOP MARCH 2020 Try to understand people's motivations. Sometimes an employee may create drama unintentionally. Their motive might be pure, but their delivery or process is broken. Maybe they really do need something fixed, but don't know how to go through the proper channels to get it done. Usually by having a probing conversation with the person, you'll be able to figure out their motivation. You can then use it as a teachable moment, explaining how they might better handle similar situations in the future. Shut down troublemakers immediately. If you see that someone is intentionally engaging in bad behavior or stirring up trouble, take a two-pronged approach. First, don't join in the conversation the troublemaker has started. Stay professional and aboveboard. Next, narrate to the troublemaker (and everyone) that drama is unacceptable. Reiterate the kind of environment you are trying to create inside your company. Sometimes we all need a gentle reminder. Extend grace. Let people back into the fold. If someone has made a mistake, give them another chance. Don't hold a grudge or, worse, turn the company against them. We're all human and we all have bad moments and bad days. In general, dis- courage self-righteous or "I'm done here!" attitudes that assume the worst of people and make it OK to give up on them. Recognize the humanity and fallibility of others. In your words and actions demon- strate that extending a little grace to people when they stumble is a good thing. Reward and recognize people who get it right. We all learn by example. For instance, when you see someone handling conflict in a positive way, thank them and acknowl- edge them publicly. Likewise, admit it when you get it wrong. If you do something that creates or per- petuates drama, own it and apologize. People respect leaders who are vulnerable and honest about their flaws. Few workplaces will ever be 100% drama-free. Human beings have short- comings and get carried away by emotions. Yet, I believe that the vast majority of people truly want good things for their coworkers and their company. When they realize how destructive drama can be and learn more productive ways of getting their needs met, they will work hard to change for the better and create a stronger, more positive culture and a higher-performing organization. QUINT STUDER is the author of Wall Street Journal bestseller The Busy Leader's Hand- book: How to Lead People and Places That Thrive and a lifelong businessman, entrepre- neur and student of leadership. More informa- tion at Great leaders take a zero- tolerance stance against drama. The vast majority of people truly want good things for their coworkers and their company, and when they realize how destructive their drama can be, they will work hard to change for the better. SHUTTING DOWN WORKPLACE DRAMA

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