Workplace drama and difficult behavior is one of those issues that not only make the company worse, but the personal lives of the employees miserable as well. It plummets profits, makes people unproductive, unmotivated, and even gets them thinking of jumping ship. Furthermore, it makes them dread their workplace, and ruins their personal, after-work downtime as well. Needless drama, petty squabbles, arguments, and selfishness sap productivity and wellbeing at the same time. It needs to be mitigated as soon as possible. Below you will find a couple of tips on how to get it under control.
Fight The Problem, Not Your Staff
Remember that it is always you and your staff against the problem, not a free-for-all battle. Even though there may be some infighting between employees, don’t go after them, but rather, see where this all came about. Try to be as objective as possible, and focus on the problem. If you can, detach from the issues, and make room for actually figuring out how to stop it. Make an effort to look at everything through the eyes of the person who’s causing trouble; take on their point of view.
Furthermore, don’t make any assumptions. People communicate differently, and just because a person uses strong or aggressive language doesn’t mean they’re in the wrong there. While this may not be the best way to handle stress, putting extra pressure on them will just make things worse. Show some respect, let them speak their minds, and don’t interrupt them. You want to mitigate the situation, to let it simmer down. What you don’t want is for it to escalate into something serious and worse. Put out flames and don’t fan them.
Figure out the problem, sit down with your people, have a conversation, and focus on the problem with them, together.
Never Take It Personally
The easiest thing in the world would be to relent and just take everything personally. It’s simple, it actually feels good (in the short term), and it lets you blow off some steam. Righteous indignation is all fine and well, but we guarantee that it will have a couple of consequences. Namely, you will lose the love and respect of your team, your company will lose profits and productivity, your staff will get even more stressed, and the problem will actually escalate instead of calming down.
Try not to lose your temper no matter how dumb or petty the argument may be. You may want to call this person who made a clear mistake an idiot, or you want to simply tell off the selfish individual who took credit for the entirety of the team’s work. Know that this does not work. You need to stay in control. If there is drama in the workplace, and you want to get to the bottom of it, you need a clear head. Investing the energy you got from your anger into actually solving the problem will be appreciated, and will actually get the job done.
In other words, always remember that you need to work with your people, and find ways to stay focused. Take care of yourself, relax from time to time, and this will help you deal with difficult behavior more easily.
Focus on the Big Picture
Remember to keep the big picture in mind, and try to remind your people of the same. You are all a team working for a company. Yes, of course, it may just be a company you work for, but at the same time, it’s up to you to not let it turn into a 40 hour-a-week droning nightmare. Work is a necessity of life, and you should do all you can to make it easier. Workplace drama is a guarantee that it will not be easier, or simpler. By creating a positive environment, by doing all you can, you will make your employees and your company happier. Your people will enjoy their work more, and make some friends, and your company will make more money due to an increase in positive behavior and productivity.
If needed, contact a lawyer who can serve as a mediator. The attorney that specializes in employment laws and meditation will certainly help you figure things out. Maybe it’s you who is in the wrong, and it’s just a matter of giving employees a bigger pay.
We advise you speak to your people, nudge them towards understanding what the big picture is. We’re talking not just about company profits, but their personal lives, and stress levels, as well. Explain to them that a petty squabble takes away hours from their free time, and makes them go at a slower pace towards any financial goals they might have.
Learn to truly listen, to properly communicate with people. Set up an hour with the disgruntled parties, and actually let them air out their grievances. During this hour, none of you should be interrupted or disturbed. Of course, don’t allow any personal attacks or name-calling, but at the same time, if there is any frustration, let them get it out in the open. Listen to what they are actually saying; see where the problems come from. Don’t talk at them, but talk with them.
Look at their body language, and see what it tells you. Maybe the whole problem came about from something very trivial, something that can be solved in minutes. Maybe it was all a big misunderstanding. What we can tell you, without a doubt, is that you will never solve a problem by going at it with brute force, and ordering people what to do. Telling them to stop complaining will just let the issue fester, and will become much worse in the long term.
The key to solving difficult behavior at the workplace is communication. The easiest thing you can do, in the short term, is just fire them. But, in the long run, this will ruin morale and will force you to train and work on new people. Be smart, be patient and calm, and actually speak with your employees properly.