Leadership Tips: 5 Steps to Reduce Workplace Drama

Things happen. Changes in personnel, restructuring, and other shakeups can cause anxiety and discontentment within teams or throughout an entire organization. Sometimes this can bring out the drama king or queen in staff members. And while briefly venting frustration is a normal part of life, long term dramatic behavior can deplete energy and cause problems for an organization if left unchecked.

Here are five ways leaders can cut back on the workplace drama plaguing their organizations:

Keep the Lines of Communication Open

When issues or uncertainty arises, rumors and speculation won’t be far behind. People will start to come up with a narrative (true or perceived) and will begin to spread it around. To combat this, go on the offense and provide as much information as possible early on. By keeping the lines of communication open and updating staff on a regular basis, you can help quell rumors and drama.

In addition to playing offense, you may have to go on the defense with facts to dispel harmful rumors that have already begun to circulate, regardless of whether the truth is good or bad. By failing to address these rumors, you are adding fuel to the fire, and team members will question your honesty and trustworthiness.

Go Directly to the Source

Avoid getting pulled into the “he said, she said” trap. The best way to address drama is to approach the person allegedly causing the melee one-on-one. This can resolve confusion and take the air out of the drama pretty quickly—usually. If that doesn’t work, pull in one of your superiors to be present with the two of you. If that approach doesn’t help, go to Human Resources. Make sure this is done in person and not via email or other electronic method, as that will likely escalate the issue. According to the Harvard Business Review, it’s best to map out what you want to say ahead of time. Be sure to listen to what the other person has to say to understand where he or she is coming from and keep a calm voice and low tone to avoid escalating the situation.

Be Willing to Listen

As a leader, be willing to listen to those who are upset. Oftentimes, you could be part of the problem. This could be because of lack of communication or unwillingness to insert truth into the conversation.

Fire the Drama King or Queen

While some drama is bound to occur in times of nervousness or uncertainty, sometimes it is caused by a repeat offender who seems to be addicted to drama. In this case, there is no fixing it, and the individual needs to be let go so they don’t continue to pollute the work environment and waste the energy of others trying to get their work done.

Adopt Policies to Handle Gossip and Drama

The amount of gossip or workplace drama you tolerate will directly impact your organization’s overall success. Therefore, it’s important to put policies in place so all team members understand what is and isn’t acceptable. Some business owners, like financial guru Dave Ramsey, have a zero-tolerance gossip policy, which seems to be much appreciated by his employees as Ramsey Solutions has been voted “best place to work” in Nashville for several years running. No matter what your policy, be sure to clearly articulate it to current employees and new hires, and stick to the consequences when the policy is violated.

Final Thoughts

Allowing ongoing workplace drama creates a toxic culture which is unproductive, unhealthy, and downright expensive, for you will lose your best talent to healthier organizations. If you need help reshaping the culture of your organization or would like to learn how to be a more successful leader, get in touch with us today. Our leadership and management development programs can help you tackle the tough issues that are holding your business back. To learn more, request a complimentary 15-minute consultation or quote.