Chris has worked in a business leadership role for the past 10+ years. He likes to share his experiences with others to help them learn.
Working in the modern office setting can be stressful, especially when there is drama. This can manifest itself in the form of gossiping, backstabbing, or negative attitudes. Nevertheless, it is possible to reduce workplace drama by fostering an environment that creates a sense of community and a positive company culture. This can be accomplished by celebrating small milestones together, having fun with team-building exercises, and providing good food for employees during lunch breaks.
Below are nine actionable ideas that can help company leaders—managers, supervisors, bosses, etc.—foster a drama-free and community-oriented culture at work.
1. Lead by Example
Lead by example and show your employees how you want them to act at work by handling things professionally and calmly. This will help to reduce office drama and make your workplace more productive.
A boss is someone who can be relied on to do what they say they'll do, regardless of how difficult it may be for them. Acting this way will make your staff more willing to work with you on future projects because they know they won't let them down. When leaders are consistent in their behaviors and attitudes, workplace drama and stress are typically reduced.
2. Maintain an Open-Door Policy
Maintaining an open-door policy is a great way to keep your employees happy and your workplace drama-free. It boosts morale and it makes you a better boss. If you don't have an open-door policy at the office, take the time to implement it!
The concept of an open-door policy is simple: any employee at any level should feel comfortable coming up to your office or asking for a meeting, regardless of their position or seniority. This can be one of the most difficult challenges for new (or very busy) managers. If you are having a hard time keeping your door open, you should start with just one or two hours a day and gradually increase your availablilty as time goes on.
3. Check In With Your Staff Regularly
One of the most important ways to maintain your sanity as a manager is to check in with your employees regularly. This will help you identify any workplace drama that may be developing and address it before it gets any worse. This also allows you to provide feedback on the work that has been completed by your team members so you can show appreciation for their hard work or correct any mistakes that may have been made.
The easiest way to stay on top of this is to set up regular one-on-one meetings with each member of your staff at least once per month. If you are unable to do so, try meeting with them for fifteen minutes each week at least. This will not only allow you to find out if anyone is unhappy, but it will also give them the opportunity to share ideas or concerns they may have about their work.
4. Encourage Employees to Speak Up About Their Concerns
As a leader, it is important to foster an environment where people feel comfortable speaking up and discussing their concerns with you. This requires that you develop trust with your employees. It also requires that you not react negatively when you hear bad news. Take the approach of being a listener rather than a responder—this will certainly help reduce stress and decrease drama in the workplace.
5. Be Transparent About Company Goals and Progress
In any work environment, transparency is extremely important. If staff does not trust the management and leadership team, problems are more likely to arise within the workplace. Managers should be willing to share relevant information with all employees.
It’s important to relay company goals, progress, and any shortcomings to staff. Having open lines of communication and ensuring that you are clear, consistent, and forthcoming is extremely important when it comes to reducing problems in the workplace.
When employees are informed about what is coming in the future, gossip is reduced. As the saying goes, if you don’t tell your employees the truth, someone will make it up for them.
6. Be Flexible in Response to Life's Ups and Downs
In this world, unexpected things happen all of the time. Employees get sick, people pass away, and freak storms cut power to entire offices. No matter what happens, it is important to remain calm and to be professional in how you deal with the situation.
Nothing makes a bad situation worse than a manager displaying a bad attitude during trying times. As a leader, you should plan for a variety of workplace situations. Think about how you might respond when an unexpected situation arises; plan out the most positive scenario in your mind before it actually happens. When employees see you responding to life’s challenges calmly and positively, their stress—and yours— will be reduced.
7. Understand what Is Driving Negative Behaviors
If your office has a negative aura about it, it’s probably time to do some investigating. Managers should ask employees questions to try to understand the source of negativity. Sometimes, you may be surprised at what you find out. Sources of drama can come from unexpected places including coworkers, customers, the environment, the parking lot, and even the break rooms and bathrooms.
There could also be imbalances in the workload. An obvious source of drama can be when some employees have too much work and others have too little. Reallocating work to less-busy employees may improve the work environment.
8. Remain Present in the Moment With Members of Your Team
When there is drama in the workplace, it can often help to empathize with your employees. A good leader takes the time to understand what their employees are experiencing and works toward getting through it with them.
Experiencing tough times with someone by your side can make dealing with it significantly easier. Being able to speak with someone about the specifics of a stressful situation can go miles in supporting a drama-free, reduced-stress work environment.
9. Remove Energy Drainers From Your Shared Workspace
Another source of drama and stress in the workplace can come from the environment itself. Perhaps the office is too loud and people can’t focus on their work. Installing some sound-dampening materials or purchasing headsets for employees could boost morale.
Maybe the office needs to be rearranged or deep cleaned, or perhaps people need a change of scenery. Sometimes, simply having employees move cubicles/offices can create a positivity boost. In addition to these things, changing out the office décor and bringing in some new artwork, furniture, and equipment can also serve to boost employee happiness.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Christopher Wanamaker
Christopher Wanamaker (author) from Arizona on September 13, 2021:
Carolyn - I appreciate your feedback and agree wholeheartedly. You've got to make time to get your own work done too!
Carolyn Fields from South Dakota, USA on September 13, 2021:
I agree with an "open door" policy in general, as long as you have some uninterrupted time to focus on your own work. Something as simple as "when my door is closed, I'm focused on work. When my door is open, feel free to come and see me." If you don't have a physical door, you may need to do this with a sign - either physically, or virtually.