how do I stop workplace drama?

Workplace Drama: How Do I Stop It and Improve Morale?

Are you having trouble with workplace drama? Perhaps this will sound familiar.

Dear Karin and David, 

I try so hard to be an empathetic leader. I really do care about the human beings on my team. But there is one woman on my team who is driving me crazy. She’s a drama queen.  She’s got drama at home. Drama at work. Drama with her co-workers. Drama on personal calls … I want to show that I care, but she’s sucking up a lot of my time and energy and it’s dragging the team down. What do I do?

Signed,

Her Workplace Drama is My Workplace Drama

Six Ways to Address Workplace Drama

Dear Her Drama is My Drama,

This is one of the toughest dynamics for a Winning Well manager. It’s really hard to know if she’s overly dramatic or if she’s truly in a bad situation. You want to be approachable and you want to help. There’s also a limit to what you can, and should, do in your role. It’s time to establish boundaries and find her some additional help as needed.

1. Limit the Audience

Don’t entertain her complaints or stories in front of the whole team. Acknowledge her issues and schedule some limited time to understand her concern privately.

2. Watch Your Body Language and Facial Expressions

Looking annoyed and ticked off will only reinforce her opinion that you’re an idiot who doesn’t care and now you’re part of the drama. It’s easy to slip into passive-aggressive mode here, to roll your eyes, or sigh deeply. Stay true to your values as a Winning Well manager.

3. Listen with an Open Mind

Sometimes within the fury of complaints and drama about her experience on the team or at your company, there is something important to learn. Listen carefully. We’ve both had times where chronic complainers brought us real issues, we were glad we had the opportunity to address.

4. Engage Professionals As Needed

If she needs real help, help her find it through HR and your Employee Assistance Program.

5. Reinforce Clear Expectations

Assuming you’ve appropriately addressed the real issues, and engaged support, it’s time to reinforce clear expectations for her role both in terms of results AND relationships. An I.N.S.P.I.R.E. conversation may be just what you need here, where you notice specific behaviors that are destructive to the team and the work that you are doing.

6. Give Her a Project

If the drama is work-related, they may just have too much time on their hands. Get her involved in solving the problem, not just talking about it. It’s always easier to tear something down than to build something up. Pull her into the solution-building equation.

Who wants to play? What advice would you give Her Drama is My Drama?

Have a leadership or management question? Send it here and we’ll do our best to share our perspective.