It is no fun to work in an office filled with drama. It can be disruptive to productivity. Sometimes it is difficult to eliminate drama from the workplace, but necessary, says Kaley Warner Klemp, co-author (with Jim Warner) of the The Drama-Free Office; A Guide to Healthy Collaboration with Your Team, Coworkers, and Boss (Greenleaf Book Group). “Drama drains energy and creativity from an organization. Any time wasted in drama is time that isn’t available for creative problem solving, innovation and the core competencies of the business. By creating a drama-free office, you get an effective, fun work environment that creates superior results,” she says.
Office drama does not disappear on its own. You must take action. “The first step to having a drama-free office is to get out of your own drama. You must first see how you are contributing to the situation and shift yourself back to authenticity and creativity. Without this step, we see managers get “hooked” by the dramatic behaviors of others, which prevents them from being effective in guiding others out of drama,” says Klemp. “The second step is to diagnose the type of drama in the other person or people. We use a simple online diagnostic tool to determine the type – or types – of drama at play. Once you know which of the four drama types–Caretaker, Complainer, Controller or Cynic – are causing the drama, it lets you tailor your approach to be most effective.”
Office drama is almost inevitable. When you blend various personalities and different work ethics, there is sure to be an outcome of conflict. Personalities can range from an all-out drama queen to the office busy body always in everyone’s business.
Once you understand the type of personalities that can drain an office environment, you can deal with getting these personalities in check. “The third step is to assess the risk of confronting the other person. Before engaging fully in the meeting with the drama-prone person (or team) to create a collaborative and creative office, we coach managers to be sure they’ve determined the risks. This way they can go in fully prepared,” Klemp points out. “They avoid accepting a dysfunctional relationship that could have been salvaged or a mistake that could have been avoided.”
Getting rid of office drama should be a mandate from the top, but there are times when office workers need to deal individually with co-workers who are prone to creating office havoc. “There are several tools that help you deal with office mates who love drama. In The Drama-Free Office, we share with our readers how and when to use direct conversations, ultimatums, clear agreements and appreciation,” notes Klemp. “Underlying all of these interventions with others is modeling authenticity as a manager: taking healthy responsibility, practicing creativity and collaboration, empowering others, and setting boundaries.”
Workplace drama is not only draining to deal with, but it can negatively affect the company’s bottom line. The earlier it is dealt with, the better off your employees, co-workers–and firm–will be.