Avoiding death by drama: Easing credit union workplace tension

All of us have experienced it – the shared glances following a staff member’s comments, the curt responses to someone’s suggestion and the escalating email wars about seemingly trivial topics. Sometimes, co-workers behave more like squabbling rivals than colleagues working toward a common goal. There can be a lack of trust, with each employee focusing more on personal goals and projects than what’s best for the company. This is bad news, because a negative work environment creates drama. Dealing with that drama ruins the whole team’s productivity and negatively affects your credit union’s bottom line with resources spent dealing with conflict and hurt feelings.

Not All Sweetness and Light

Disagreement is a given in the workplace. When employees engage in open, respectful communication, people can disagree but still share ideas and feel validated.

But complaining or gossiping can cause drama that is harmful to everyone on the team. This takes an emotional toll, distracting others and wasting time. It hurts the organization and can increase tension while avoiding the real issue. When people feel their performance is continually under attack or others on the team don’t value their opinions, they often try to keep a “low profile.” In effect, they check out. The result is that the organization loses the benefit of employees’ experience and knowledge – and their commitment. Even worse, groups can divide into an “us-and-them” mentality, with participants focusing on their own goals instead of the company’s. In its 2013 State of the American Workplace survey, Gallup estimated that disengaged employees cost the United States between $450 billion to $550 billion a year.

Causes of Drama

Workplace drama can be caused by a myriad of issues but generally stem from only a few causes:

  • Misunderstandings—often times, conflict arises because people misunderstand one another’s message or intent; this is especially true with email.
continue reading »