Last night as I waited for my daughter at dance class, I joined a group of other moms that were waiting. One was lamenting about how unhappy she was with two of her coworkers. Apparently, it had been a really rough day…
“They just stir the pot and make it such a negative environment. There are only six of us in my department and it drives all of us crazy. If management would just address the problem and stop hiding from conflict and confrontation, we all would function better as a team.
The main trouble maker is 6 months away from retirement so they are probably thinking that they’ll just wait her out and hopefully things will improve. I wish they knew how miserable we all are. I’ve even started looking for a job outside of my department.”
I don’t know this woman well, but I felt for her. We’ve all been there. I’ve even been in her manager’s position of having difficult staff. But the key is to address the situation before it gets worse. As I see it, there are (at least) two issues here –
1) Not Addressing the Behavior – By letting the poor behavior continue, management is condoning it. It will soon become the accepted norm. The wording I would suggest to start to correct this would be…
” You seem to be pretty unhappy or frustrated about something. Please let me know what’s going on so that I can help. Your attitude is sending a sense of negativity that I’m not sure you are aware of. We need to make this a positive working environment. How can I help?”
Notice that I didn’t use wording that would put someone on the spot, but these words help alleviate the expected sense of defensiveness, while letting it be known that what is going on needs to stop. It also puts management in the position of being open and able to help if possible.
2) The Rest of the Team is Devalued – If you’ve read these newsletters long enough or spent an hour on the phone with me, you know that I’m always going to say that you need to treat your internal customers as well as, if not better than, your external customers.
Should you allow poor working environments, even psychological, to continue, you are telling the rest of the team that you don’t care enough about them. You are putting more value on your fear of confrontation than on their emotional happiness at work. The sad part here is that you’ll not only lose your good staff, but you’ll lose customers as well. Customers will sense what’s going on. They’ll overhear staff. They might even get an earful from one of your staff. Don’t risk it.
Takeaway Tip – Pay attention to your team. If you have some “Morale Killers” around, act sooner rather than later, before it’s too late