Five Tips to Working past Office Drama
<strong>By <span data-scayt_word="Kaley" data-scaytid="7">Kaley</span> <span data-scayt_word="Klemp" data-scaytid="10">Klemp</span> and Jim Warner</strong><br />
We’ve all seen her. The world revolves around her. She’s never wrong. Mistakes are personal affronts. And if you invade her space, you’ll get to see a Hollywood-worthy melodrama.<br />
Regardless of your skills or efforts, this diva picks relentlessly at your outputs. While it was entertaining in “The Devil Wears Prada,” it’s energy-draining to experience her in your work environment. While you try your best, it seems you can never meet her expectations—and <em>you</em> pay the consequences!<br />
What to do? By following these five guidelines, you have a much better chance for a positive working relationship with a Drama Diva—and perhaps saving the theatrics for the movies.<br />
<strong>1. Develop Rapport:</strong> Overtly confronting a Drama Diva is risky. Often, she’ll react disproportionately to any attempts at constructive criticism. Instead, build a relationship with her before initiating a difficult conversation. Study her behaviors, attitudes, and willingness to receive feedback. Invest the time up front to be able to give input later.<br />
<strong>Specific Tip:</strong> Demonstrate your support and trustworthiness, especially during challenging times. Drama Divas are known for staying calmer with allies and rewarding loyalty.<br />
<strong>2. Clarify Expectations:</strong> As a poor delegators, a Drama Diva will often give vague or incomplete instructions. She assumes you’ll know what to do and then reprimand you when your deliverable differs from her expectation. Consequently, you must clearly define goals and time frames up front. She may become irritated at your persistence or <span data-scayt_word=""ignorance."" data-scaytid="1">“ignorance.”</span> Nevertheless, insist on explicit agreements. Better to risk her frustration early in the game than to miss deadlines or fail to meet her expectations.<br />
<strong>Specific Tip:</strong> Establish crystal clear agreements about deliverables and time frames.<br />
<strong>3. Deliver Results:</strong> A Drama Diva’s most explosive displays often revolve around missed deadlines or something that has her look bad. She expects you to perform well so that she’ll stay in a positive light. Focus on delivering quality work on time and, if appropriate, share the kudos.<br />
<strong>Specific Tip:</strong> Make her look good, so she earns external recognition. Whenever appropriate, let her have the limelight. <br />
<strong>4. Appreciate their Value:</strong> Compliment the Drama Diva for what she does well, whether efficiency, creativity, or bold action. <span data-scayt_word="Sinceshe" data-scaytid="12">Sinceshe</span> will likely be sensitive to false praise or fawning, keep the appreciation short and specific. Deliver it with sincerity and in a matter-of-fact way.<br />
<strong>Specific Tip:</strong> Praise the Diva, especially for things that work well for you, for instance sharing responsibility or for displaying trust toward you or others.<br />
<strong>Suppose none of this works …</strong><br />
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<strong>5. Stay below her radar:</strong> If you work for a Drama Diva who resists coaching or leadership development, understand that the probability of authentic interactions is low, and that your best coping strategy is to stay below her radar screen. If you’re willing to take the risk, you might go over her head to seek reassignment or upper-level backing for your role. This is usually a high-stakes move, so be prepared for the Diva to react with swift, angry retaliation, which may mean the situation worsens for you.<br />
<strong>Specific Tip:</strong> If she micro-manages you or overrides your best ideas, put on a smile and let her have the last word. Then find a place where you can thrive and work to get out of the Diva’s way and into another environment.<br />
The Drama Diva is a specific type of office Controller. By following these guidelines and tips you can position yourself as a responsible team member and colleague, whom she can trust to understand her goals, ask good questions, and deliver results. You can be allies, rather than a victim of the “Diva <span data-scayt_word="Show."" data-scaytid="2">Show.”</span><br />
<em><span data-scayt_word="Kaley" data-scaytid="8">Kaley</span> <span data-scayt_word="Klemp" data-scaytid="11">Klemp</span> and Jim Warner are the authors of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1608321177/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&…; target="_blank">The Drama-Free Office: A Guide to Healthy Collaboration with Your Team, Coworkers, and Boss</a>. The book contains additional tips on how to manage Controllers – whether your colleagues or your boss – as well as insights on the three other drama types most commonly found in offices. To take a free online drama diagnostic (an excellent tool for narrowing the type of drama in another person), go to</em> <em><a href="http://www.dramafreeoffice.com/" target="_blank"><span data-scayt_word="//www.dramafreeoffice.com" data-scaytid="3">www.dramafreeoffice.com</span></a>. You can get a free sample of the book on Facebook,</em> <em><a href="http://www.facebook.com/kaleyklemp" target="_blank"><span data-scayt_word="//www.facebook.com" data-scaytid="4">www.facebook.com</span>/<span data-scayt_word="kaleyklemp" data-scaytid="13">kaleyklemp</span></a>, follow Jim and <span data-scayt_word="Kaley" data-scaytid="9">Kaley</span> on twitter,<a href="http://www.twitter.com/kaleyklemp" target="_blank"><span data-scayt_word="//www.twitter.com" data-scaytid="5">www.twitter.com</span>/<span data-scayt_word="kaleyklemp" data-scaytid="14">kaleyklemp</span></a>, and watch their videos and interviews on YouTube,<a href="http://www.youtube.com/kaleyklemp" target="_blank"><span data-scayt_word="//www.youtube.com" data-scaytid="6">www.youtube.com</span>/<span data-scayt_word="kaleyklemp" data-scaytid="15">kaleyklemp</span></a>.</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.