When the Biggest Problem is the People

A day in a dysfunctional office can feature more drama than a soap opera: coworker conflict, gum-flapping gossips, turf wars that are entrenched in the culture and demanding divas of either gender, just to name a few.

No wonder studies estimate that managers spend about 20% of their time—the equivalent of one day each workweek—dealing with employee conflict.

Instead of shutting the door and trying to ignore it, consider that you might be the trigger, or at least adding fuel to the flames. Make sure that your actions contribute to a calm workplace.

Do you:

  • Consider job candidates’ attitudes and fit with your organization’s culture? It’s easier to train an employee to develop the necessary skills than to change someone’s attitude.
  • Involve yourself in employee battles when you should—and only when you need to? If you keep solving problems, employees will keep bringing them to you.
  • Act as a coach, instead of a referee? When you show employees how to get along, everyone will have more time to focus on the work.
  • Apply consistent standards for behavior across the board, no matter how much a “star” employee contributes to sales or other areas? Drama kings and queens can cost you more than they are worth, with the distractions, resentment and turnover they cause.


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