There are very few of us who have been spared the discomfort of difficult-to-navigate scenarios at work. On the healthy end of the spectrum, these look like friction and challenges that drive growth and progress through collaboration, good competition and healthy debate.
The other side of the spectrum? We know it all too well. They’re scenarios of untruths, manipulated facts, shit disturbers (not the fun kind…on that note I have some tequila in my office if you’re free later), entitlement and those who wish to divide.
For most moderately healthy teams we don’t see these negative exchanges happening with regularity (if you do – we can help so give us a shout ASAP!) For the most part, our workplaces are filled with emotional intelligence, professional maturity, and high personal character. But even in the healthiest workplace a negative subculture can pop up like a weed and grow quickly. For that reason, we’ve come up with 6 tips and tricks for navigating (and avoiding) drama in the workplace.
- Encourage a culture of trust and accountability We know this is easier said than done. While culture is driven from the top, each team member, including yourself, plays a role. When encountering friction, make the assumption that those involved have your best interest at the forefront.If the matter still requires resolution, you’ll have a core company value to fall back on. While it does require a direct conversation, let your fellow team members know you’re seeing a misalignment with values and ask them how you can help to resolve this. Don’t put it all on them – a disagreement requires two parties and leaving your ego at the door means you’ll be able to grow these relationships of trust.
- Don’t wait for it to resolve itself When you encounter friction don’t wait to have the conversation. So often the cause of the friction is miscommunication and can be resolved immediately. The longer these conversations go without being had, the more you allow space for drama at work.
- Get to the source and avoid assumptions We’re great at writing stories to fill in the blanks. That’s the way our brains work. When dealing with personal conflict, admit what you don’t know instead of assuming.Some questions to ask to help with this are:
- Is this usual behaviour for this team member? If not, then there’s more than likely a root cause you’re unaware of. While the root cause can be a number of issues, this gives you a starting point for discussions.
- Is there something in my approach that could have caused this? As mentioned in the first point – a disagreement requires two parties.
- How does this person react under stress? This is why we love psychometric profiling. While DISC is our go-to at Elevated, there are many tools to identify the ins-and-outs of your personality, and the personalities of the team (see #4 for a bit more info!)
- Create tools for and process for talking it out At Elevated HR we know sometimes you just gotta get it off your chest. Talking it through with an alternate team member means you can re-approach the conflict with a plan for resolution.These conversations are crucial, but there has to be follow through. Here at Elevated we hold each other accountable to have a follow up conversation with the person affecting you within 24-hours. We allow space to speak in privacy, as well as hold our team to a high standard of Partnership.
- Talk about who we are If you’ve taken a DISC assessment, Myers Briggs, Fascination Advantage, Gallup Strengths Finder, or any of the other various psychometric profiles – don’t leave them on the shelf. These are powerful tools to use to understand yourself and your team. Often times they require vulnerability. Showing vulnerability in these situations helps to drive trust with your team (see how these are all tying together?)For example: I’m a fluffy communicator. That annoys the hell out of some people. Some people are direct communicators. And they know it annoys the hell out of me. Creating relationships of trust, understanding who we are, avoiding inaccurate assumptions, utilizing the tools and values in place – these are all part of a high functioning and effective team with minimal workplace drama.
- Retain your A’s, and coach out dissention This point speaks for itself. A team member who can build trust, have proactive conversations, seek clarity, utilize tools, and have healthy vulnerability is a natural A player. They also make an easy comparison for someone who isn’t.At the end of the day be honest about a personality that doesn’t align with your values, and know when to coach someone onto their next opportunity.
Drama in the workplace can be exhausting. But you don’t need a leader to do anything about it; you remembering that you own your results is key. If you want something to change…change it. Check out our blog post about difficult conversations in the workplace to learn more about challenges faced in the workplace. Check out the post!