One thing we know for sure is that if conflict aka DRAMA is not dealt with in the workplace, it will NEVER go away! Once we have come to terms with the fact that it is the leader’s role with the help of their HR Partner, to manage conflict, we can explore why it exists and more importantly how we can deal with it.
Drama and conflict exist inside all types of businesses regardless of the product or service they supply. The only common denominator is that they employ people. Drama can stem from all sorts of roots, which include lack of communication and not feeling heard, and difficult or demanding customers can add to feelings of frustration and anger. Stressful times don’t help, nor do managers who aren’t paying attention to bad behavior and being appropriately supportive.
If you have had to deal with infighting, backstabbing, resentment, seething anger and more – you are not alone, and all of these situations are very bad for your business. It affects the working environment and ultimately the atmosphere your customers experience as well. The worst part is that it could be costing you revenue. One Gallup report found that U.S. employees spend 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict and preventing productivity. But it’s not just about time spent on conflict – it’s about your customer experience and your employee experience. Toxic atmospheres don’t make for a successful business.
Fortunately, if you’re a leader dealing with drama, there’s a lot you can do about it. Here are some must haves to create a drama-free workplace.
1. Be a Role Model
A drama-free workplace starts with you. Do an honest assessment of your own behavior and ask yourself if you are contributing to the drama. Are you participating in gossip, playing favorites, taking things personally, making assumptions, or allowing your own moods to affect your interactions with your team? If you are doing any of these things (or anything else that’s contributing to the drama), you need to stop. Check your ego. It’s hard and we’re all human, but that is what is required of effective leaders.
2. Communicate clear expectations
At no point should your team not know what is expected of them. They should know how they’re expected to behave, what success looks like, and how they’re expected to achieve it. Setting clear expectations for performance and behavior is the price of entry into leadership. It is your job to consistently articulate the values of the organization and define the expected behavior.
3. Clean up the toxic element
Drama is often created by a single instigator. If there is a person, or people, with a toxic attitude causing trouble, this must be addressed. Speak to the employee and listen to their issues but be sure to give concrete and specific feedback about how they are expected to handle their issues and conduct themselves in the workplace. Being unhappy at work does not give them free rein to make others unhappy or create a disruptive work environment.
4. Support your team
It is true that employees may have to deal directly with demanding and difficult customers, but they should not be expected to do it alone. Have an open-door policy and conduct regular check-ins with your team members. Make sure they know you are there to support them and that you have their back when it comes to difficult customer situations.
5. Actively listen
Remember why we have two ears and one mouth. Listen to your employees. Also listen to your environment. Listen to the ways people interact with each other and for rumblings of dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and resentment and if you hear something worrisome, get it out in the open. Don’t think that issues will resolve themselves that only happens in the movies.
6. Channel competitive energy into purpose and organizational success
Encourage and expect people to work together, not against each other, and communicate that everyone’s success contributes to the success of the business. Consistently remind the team that there is only ONE team and one purpose.
If you have done some or all of all the items listed above, and your team is still not drama free, I have one more suggestion for you. I have found that often humans think that because they are different, they cannot get along. In our global world we understand the value of diversity and diverse thinking so we cannot all be alike either. I recommend that you seek the assistance of a facilitator who is fluent in the DiSC assessment, feedback, and training process.
Utilizing the DiSC assessment with its unique ability to identify and measure traits, makes intangible behaviors tangible, and helps to bridge communication gaps. It can also help with managing group conflict because your employees will not only learn their dominant traits, but also how these traits show up among interpersonal relationships. Being aware of how you can adapt your behavior, communication or management style to another individual’s DISC style will improve your relationship with that individual. It also creates a clear framework in which everyone understands how their individual strengths contribute to the success of the team.
Knowing and understanding your style and other’s styles gives you the ability to take new approaches. It took me years to realize that “we can’t change other people” but we can change our approach to them based on their style and get better results.
The DiSC assessment, debrief and training process has been amazingly effective in helping teams better understand their unique styles. From there, with the help of coaching we have had exceptional results in helping teams lose the drama and build effective work environments.
Since managing drama and conflict is part of your role as a leader, be sure that you can create comfortable, calm, happy and thriving workplaces, it just takes intention and effort.