Tuesday, April 9, 2013

High School Drama in the Workplace

Today's Post is froM ILSHRM's Susan Avello

Drama! I hate it. I know what you guys are thinking, "No woman hates drama because they all create it." Am I right?

But nothing could be further from the truth. Okay, I admit - I used to be a regular player in the world of drama. I spent my first 18 years of marriage in it, in fact. Every day was like being on a soap opera and I was this actress playing some kind of weird role. I admit it, I had my share of drama but what I realized when I left that relationship of 23 years (we dated five years before we married) that I didn't have to be pulled into drama anymore. I was relieved to know that it was not normal.

There are some people who just thrive on drama and they love creating it. They also love pulling you into their drama, into their crazy mixed-up world and then somehow, turn the tables on you. To this day, I still receive calls from my ex trying to create drama for me, in regard to things happening either with our child or some small town gossip. These days I just don't answer the phone because I know it's the same old' same old'.

I know we have all experienced drama in high school either ourselves or we see it happening in the lives of our children, but what about workplace drama? Shouldn't it have diminished after high school? Workplace drama can be the worst.

Now, especially in this technology world we live in, we're hearing all about the gossip through facebook and twitter. People are getting fired over these issues, being banned from school, even getting arrested because of their crappy drama being circulated around the world. How is this affecting our workplace? Creating more crap for us to deal with.

It's the same as the high school drama: We hear about the poor middle-schooler (actually an adult now) who was tagged in a photo as “whore” on Facebook. We hear about the kids who go to the woods behind the high school to get high (but it's actually now, behind the tree out back of the warehouse). We hear about the parties and the drunken stupor and orgies of our colleagues and we pass it off as "office gossip." And yet, it creates an atmosphere of jealousy, mistrust and then no one wants to "be on our team".....the same as if we were coaching the high school basketball team.

So what is the solution? Should we just fire them all and start over? I know sometimes we feel like that would be the answer but of course it's not a realistic solution.

Putting Policies in Place

From what I've experienced having a policy in place with easy steps to handle workplace conflict helps employees know the due process. This will help prevent future problems. Somehow, when you have it in writing "This is what happens if and when you post that picture of yourself on facebook, you know the one at a party holding the bong" you not only make your employees aware that there will be repercussions if the boundaries are crossed (just like dealing with our high school age children) but if documented correctly, you will save yourself a lot of headache if and when it should ever go to court. Documentation is key.

Susan Avello is Social Marketing Consultant and Principal of Social Buzz Concepts, specializing in Social Media Marketing Solutions, Training and Development and Company Branding. She shares her knowledge of  Social Media in the Workplace, and the latest in Technology over at HR Virtual Cafe blog, SHRM WeKnowNext and Social Media Today, and is a part of the social press team for SHRM annual conference. She is social media chair for Illinois SHRM State conference and helps Job Seekers and Veterans with their social job search as Co-Founder of DiscoveringSocial.com. She is the recipient of 2011’s Most Influential Women in Business award by Chicago’s Daily Herald Business Ledger, the National Association of Women Business Owners and Women’s Innovation Network. Follow her on Twitter @susanavello.