Who is in charge? Is it the trouble maker in your office, the voice in your head, or the worries that keep you up at night? According to Marlene Chism author of Stop Workplace Drama – “If you’ve been a leader for any length of time, it’s probably common knowledge to you that drama is the number one productivity killer. Drama shows up as office gossip, backstabbing, bickering, and any form of negativity and stress that negatively impacts the productivity, profitability or the mission of the organization.”
I have experienced this first hand as I help both individuals and small businesses navigate change and reinvention. In fact it is the one thing that takes the wind out of my sails having to deal with all the ‘behind people’s backs’ talk that I hear and everyone claims to have good intentions. It’s a ‘the problem is THEM not ME’ attitude! Up until I happened upon Marlene’s site though I didn’t have proof of how debilitating drama could be both on the people involved AND on the profitability of the business.
Marlene says that complaining, and excuse-making are big time-wasters. Negative attitudes spread like a virus and eventually lead to increased absenteeism, low morale and can even contribute to physical symptoms like headaches or more serious illness. Did you know that even recalling an angry experience suppresses the immune system for as much as six hours? That was an eye-opener for me!
So even if we didn’t realize the full extent of the damage that drama could cause I wonder why so many business owners and leaders ignore the drama kings and queens in the workplace or for that matter their OWN drama until if festers like a cancerous tumor? And then decide to hire someone (consultant, coach, trainer) without admitting that there is a ‘cancer’ and ask this person to fix it? Is there some kind of denial going on here?
I have seen business owners identify trouble-makers time and time again, agonize over the disruption and destruction they cause behind closed doors and then give me every possible reason why it would be almost impossible to let this person go. Who’s the REAL boss here? Are we playing the avoidance game because if this is the game – the problem is NOT going to just spirit away. It’s almost like being in a toxic relationship and hoping that the other person ends it so that you don’t have to!
Nip drama in the bud would be a wise thing to do. It’s like the noise you hear in your car or the red light you see flashing on your dashboard. Ignoring it won’t make it go away.
If you have a leak in your boat you can paddle as fast as you want, (working longer and harder) but you aren’t going to get to your destination as long as water keeps filling up your boat.
Denial is addictive. It starts insignificantly enough – then the dreaded situation is gone again. Things revert to normal, and the incident is explained away, or simply not mentioned again. There may be an apology or maybe not and in most cases through forced smiles, you accept that perhaps you’re wrong or making a big deal when you shouldn’t.
Many people opt to work harder and longer but until we fix all the leaks in the boat paddling faster or strapping a motor to your dinghy is not going to be very helpful. Eventually you will sink.
If you’ve been in business long enough you know that inevitably drama will enter the mix. Sometimes it’s short-lived – sometimes it seems to linger especially when there are personality conflicts and no one’s going anywhere soon!
Don’t live in denial. You can deny the leak, meditate, pray, focus on the positive or hire a coach to improve your rowing abilities, but until you admit you have a leak you are at the mercy of the hole in your boat. You can blame the boat maker but that doesn’t fix the hole in the boat.
The only thing for you to do is to face up to the truth of your situation and take responsible action. Drama is an indicator that transformation is taking place. Change and reinvention always bring opportunity for spiritual and transformational growth personally and professionally. Drama in any area of life impacts the other areas, and that is why you need to stop the drama now and be the leader you were meant to be! Focus on what you want (not on what you don’t want) – ask for what you want and then work on fixing it NOW!