Get the drama out – growth pains

Is your team wasting time on unnecessary drama?

Here's a quick story. Young company with an exciting mission that will truly make the world a better place. Very smart, creative folks. Lots of excitement and amazing results in their first three years. But something has changed in the last year or so and the organization isn’t working as well as it did.

Could be lots of things. First, there’s the growing pains that get so intense at around a dozen employees when a company is ramping up quickly. That small family feeling changes. Structure is needed. Everything feels different. Not an easy transition, but most companies get through it.

But here’s the part this young organization won’t get through without some serious leadership work. It’s starting to feel like a soap opera around the office. You know the feeling. Lots of “water cooler” chat about who’s doing what or who said what. Not productive working conversations or even human connection that feels good or provides support. More like backstabbing and rumors. Bad mojo.

That stuff gets into the culture and productivity takes a nose dive. Employee satisfaction does the same. Pretty soon the bad vibes will spread to customers, suppliers, partners, and other stakeholders. You can kiss growth, customer loyalty, profitability or whatever other success metrics you hold dear goodbye.

There are three key things leaders must manage to cure this problem.

  1. Your own behavior.
    Notice if you are EVER talking about someone instead of to them. If so, you’re participating in the drama.
  2. Expectations.
    Put everyone on notice that you intend to get the drama out of the office. 
  3. Others’ behavior.
    Do you allow people to complain to you about someone else? If so, you’re supporting them in their drama.

It’s not easy to create a culture that consistently feels like a productive workplace not a soap opera set. But with strong leadership, you can make the change.

Today, listen to your own thoughts about others’ actions. Notice where you are failing to give direct and authentic feedback where it could be appropriate and helpful. For today, just notice. This is the first step in getting your own drama out of the way.