Operational drama

Have you ever woken up and dreaded going to work, knowing you are likely to face unnecessary drama?

Don’t worry, we have all been there.

I’ve come to call this operational drama.

It can be said that the drama can come from typical office politics and dysfunctional team dynamics, yet it can also be caused by people who crave drama.

I realize this idea might not be well received by everyone, yet the truth must be told.

I’ve looked at this from many angles for many years and can’t dance around it; some people crave drama.

They don’t even necessarily do it on purpose.

I have identified five broad reasons people might crave drama.

First, seeking attention.

We all need to be seen and noticed and if someone feels that their contributions are not being valued or even ignored, they might create drama to fill that void.

Ironically, they might end up getting attention, yet they might compromise their reputation at the same time and people may even start to question their competency.

To address this, if you are in the leadership role, make sure to spend time giving praise where praise is due and reinforce the behaviour you are looking for.

Don’t give praise to the drama elements, give praise for the actions and behaviours of that person towards good results.

If they currently don’t have good results, suggest some ideas or actions for them take that will garner good results for themselves.

Next, politics and power struggles.

Colleagues or even departments can create drama faced with limited resources or even a system that places people or units in competition with one another.

In such instances, conduct a deep analysis of your system to see if you are truly encouraging teamwork versus individual performance.

And ensure your system does not place units in competition for resources.

For example, placing more recruitment efforts towards the sales department rather than the quality assurance unit.

Third, insecurity.

People who are insecure about their skills, abilities, competency, may try and deflect attention to this by creating drama.

I have also seen people be placed in positions they don’t have the acumen for, can’t develop the acumen create drama to deflect from their weaknesses.

In these instances, work to support the person by giving them the tools and training they need to be successful and if they still can’t learn and grow, transfer them to another role.

If they don’t acquire the acumen they need and they don’t get transferred, expect the drama to continue, even for years.

Fourth, poor communication in all directions.

This element can’t be placed at the foot of any one individual, this is a shared responsibility and a shared failure.

It is easy to say leadership is responsible for the tenure of communication, yet all levels must be open to listening and understand that good communication is multi-directional.

To improve communication, it is important to create simple frameworks for team meeting, goal setting, emails versus face-to-face discussion, on-site work versus working from home.

Factor every possible type of communication and concretely set some parameters for the vehicle and information flow.

Lastly, personal issues are almost impossible to avoid.

As I have often said, people are messy because life is messy.

Rarely does life go the way anyone plans, wishes, or desires.

Stuff happens, and in fact, stuff will always happen.

People can be greatly impacted by what happens to them outside work.

Family illness, financial stress, childcare issues, elderly parents, the list can be extensive.

Such challenges can lead to stress and anxiety that come with people to the workplace.

If you are in leadership, take the time to understand the source of the individual’s experience without necessarily getting too personal.

Ensure you don’t punish someone for having a bad day, a bad month, or even a bad year due to serious outside work challenges.

And if you can, develop a wellness program that not only offers professional assistance yet also substantial amount of paid time-off without having to provide doctor’s notes or go through layers of bureaucracy.

I know some people might take advantage of such entitlements, yet I believe most people are honest and will benefit from the program is it was intended.

Having a mechanism to help these individuals get through their challenging times outside work with as little bureaucracy as possible will build trust in all directions.

Operational drama can be diminished, yet it takes operational leadership to do so.