Creating a drama-free office place
If you work with other people (and who doesn’t?) reflect on the last week and notice how much time you wasted in drama: the energy-draining behaviors or exchanges that keep you from what you really want to be doing. Think about all the infighting, water-cooler talk, meaningless meetings, turf wars, pouting, rants, and other behaviors that blocked positive, productive interactions in your organization.<br />
Now, think about how many creative projects you could have completed, or how much time you could have spent having fun with friends and family if you had that time and energy back.<br />
By following these seven steps, you can shift yourself (and your team) away from drama to more enjoyable and productive tasks!<br />
<strong>Step 1: Get Out of Your Own Drama<br />
</strong>One of the most difficult challenges for aspiring leaders is to “own their stuff”—to acknowledge their own responsibility for relationship shortcomings. So, before you can guide others, you must take inventory of both your interaction strengths (<span data-scayt_word="i.e" data-scaytid="1">i.e</span>., where you uplift relationships) and the ways you sabotage relationships. The strength inventory is usually easy. The sabotage inventory is more difficult. It requires the vulnerability and courage to seek others’ candid observations and advice about your behavior. To find out your own drama tendencies, you can use self-reflection, ask your colleagues, or take a <a href="http://www.dramafreeoffice.com/self-assessment-survey">drama-assessment…; You can only help others when you are curious yourself. Take a deep breath, get re-centered and get out of your own way.<br />
<strong>Step 2: Diagnose the Type of Drama in the Other Person<br />
</strong>Once you are committed to authenticity and curiosity yourself, you can determine what kind of drama the other person is displaying. There are four primary drama roles that emerge most frequently in office settings: the Complainer, the Controller, the Cynic and the Caretaker. You’ll need to use different strategies for different personality types—there is no “one size fits all” antidote for drama. Notice the kind of person you’re dealing with. Will they respond more to direct confrontation and setting boundaries (better for Controllers and Cynics), or to appreciation and encouragement (better for Caretakers and Complainers)? Know who you’re dealing with and tailor your approach to maximize your chance for shifting their behavior.<br />
<strong>Step 3: Assess The Risk Of Confronting The Other Person<br />
</strong>Before meeting with drama-prone colleagues, you must identify and evaluate the potential downsides of a confrontation. Without objectively assessing these risks, you might be tempted to either accept a dysfunctional relationship you could have salvaged or make a misstep you could have avoided. So, before launching into a direct conversation with your boss or a team member, consider the possible side effects (<span data-scayt_word="e.g" data-scaytid="3">e.g</span>., nothing happens, it gets worse, they abruptly leave) and whether you’re willing to face them.<br />
<strong>Step 4: Develop Rapport with the Drama-Prone Person<br />
</strong>It’s important to establish rapport with the other person so he is best prepared to receive your message. Try opening with a blend of connection, appreciation, ground rules, and expectations. Your goal is to get the person’s full attention and to set him up to be receptive to your ideas. People prefer to collaborate with those they know and like, so this step is powerful in setting the tone for the rest of the conversation.<br />
<strong>Step 5: Have a Direct Conversation<br />
</strong>While an entire article could be written about direct conversations, when confronting a person about their drama, stay dispassionate and state “the facts” clearly and concisely. Also present the meaning you derived from the facts (<span data-scayt_word="i.e" data-scaytid="2">i.e</span>., your perceptions), and any emotions you experience—usually some combination of fear, anger, guilt or embarrassment.<br />
This next part is a little tougher. Share with the person how <em>you</em> contributed to the situation (why it’s your fault, too). Then, end with a specific request. Usually these conversations end with an agreement about what will happen next to make sure the drama ends.<br />
While this may sound simple, each component outlined above is worth practicing and mastering so that the entire conversation flows smoothly. For instance, it’s very easy to mix facts and derived meaning. People often say, “The facts are, you are being <span data-scayt_word="difficult."" data-scaytid="4">difficult.”</span> When, in fact, the level of cooperation or difficulty of an individual is derived meaning or perception. One person may consider challenging an idea as difficult behavior and another might appreciate it as a commitment to improvement.<br />
<strong>Step 6: Get Their Commitment<br />
</strong>The last step of the direct conversation in Step 5 is your specific requests or expectations of the person. A commitment to realize these expectations without excuses, sarcasm, self-pity, or martyrdom is often difficult to obtain from drama-prone people. They’ll dance around the expectation or rephrase them in vague terms. These deflection or evasion tactics are a self-protection mechanism that helps the dramatic person avoid both change and accountability. Don’t get hooked. Reiterate both your specific expectations and your need for the drama-prone person’s commitment to meet them. If she continues to resist or deflect, be prepared to calmly lay out an ultimatum, including specific rewards for meeting objectives and consequences for missing objectives.<br />
<strong>Step 7: Validate And Anchor Their Commitment And New Behavior<br />
</strong>Praise the person for his positive behaviors during your meeting, and honor the commitments he made. Follow up with a short note or e-mail confirming and affirming the person’s commitments. Ideally, ask them to create a summary of your meeting that includes their specific agreements. People live up to what they write down.<br />
Once you’ve done these seven steps, you have done the hard work. Now you can redirect your energy toward the collaborative, meaningful projects that you enjoy doing, and work in an office free from drama.</p>
<em><span data-scayt_word="Kaley" data-scaytid="13">Kaley</span> <span data-scayt_word="Klemp" data-scaytid="14">Klemp</span> and Jim Warner are the authors of </em>The Drama-Free Office: A Guide to Healthy Collaboration with Your Team, Coworkers, and Boss<em>. You can get a free sample of the book on Facebook, </em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/KaleyKlemp" target="_blank"><em><span data-scayt_word="//www.facebook.com" data-scaytid="5">www.facebook.com</span>/<span data-scayt_word="KaleyKlemp" data-scaytid="15">KaleyKlemp</span></em></a><em>, follow them on twitter, <span data-scayt_word="@KaleyKlemp" data-scaytid="16">@KaleyKlemp</span> and read more about them at </em><a href="http://www.dramafreeoffice.com/" target="_blank"><em><span data-scayt_word="//www.DramaFreeOffice.com" data-scaytid="6">www.DramaFreeOffice.com</span></em></a><em>.</em></p>
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.