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Do you avoid conflict? Do you back down from strong-willed employees? Do you gossip with your trusted employees? Do you ignore issues until they are full blown?

If you engage in any of these activities, you may be unwittingly contributing to toxicity in your workplace. We’ll discuss these issues and offer suggestions in this article.

Know Your Group

Have you inherited a dysfunctional work group? If so, you know that it can take some time to change things around.

Where dysfunction is the norm, your powers of observation are critical. It is best to bring the enthusiastic employees on board first, and answer the questions of the second group, the thinkers, next. 

At least then you have the majority of your people on board you and can use their influence to face obstacles and do problem solving. The actions you can take include:

  • Noting the employees who fit into each of these categories when you need to introduce any change, big or small:
    • Those who want to come on board with new ideas.
    • The individuals who need a little time to think about the change, ask questions, and understand what is expected of them prior to committing their support.
    • The small group who sit on the fence and watch as you implement change and will either say, “I knew that was a good idea” if it succeeds or “I knew that was a lousy idea” if it fails.
    • The final group, I call my OMDBs (over my dead body) who will try and sabotage anything you try and do no matter how collaborative you are or how good the idea is for them and the organization/business.

Acknowledge the Attitude

It is possible to realize that many of your employees have negative (bad) attitudes. You may be wondering why? They may not even be aware that their bad attitude is creating havoc for you and others.

Their attitudes may exist for a number of reasons. They may think:

  • This is the way I’ve always been and it has worked for me in the past. These people don’t even realize that they are getting in the way of their own success.
  • I am the victim here. They feel that any new idea will disadvantage them and that they don’t have a voice.
  • I have no clue how to express my opinions therefore, I’ll just stay quiet and be passive aggressive. These individuals may not know their story or if they know it, they may be afraid to tell it because they have been punished in the past for being honest.
  • I can only see the negative. I do not know how to focus on the positive and see myself as part of any solution.
  • I am afraid of failure. Therefore, if I don’t try, I can’t fail.

    Your ability to create a safe environment, assist your employees to tell their stories, engage in problem solving and really hear their fears is critical to your success.  

    Owning Our Stories 

    Poor communication happens when employees are used to being shut down, ridiculed, or shunned. Often, they do not know their stories and if they do, they are afraid to share them.

    Sometimes, when they share their truths and have others help them solve problems, they don’t know how to react, because they are not used to being heard, honored, and supported. When they are seen and respected, their world changes.

    It does take time to build up this trust but it is well worth it. They learn that it is okay to be vulnerable. It is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength.


    Do you or others need drama to feel alive and alert? The need for drama results from:

    • The need to cover up or avoid one’s own feelings of shame.
    • Feelings of boredom.
    • The need to be seen and heard.
    • The desire to avoid work, and/or
    • The desire for power.

    Many employees feel that their skills and knowledge are not acknowledged.

    You can overcome the need for office drama by finding each employees strengths, identifying tasks that really engage their creative abilities, and help them feel valued.

    When people feel valued and seen their need to create drama drastically decreases.

    Be Grateful 

    Have you ever been told that you are lucky to have a job these days? I don’t know about you, but I hate that approach. In fact, I don’t even know what that means, or how I am supposed to react to that statement.

    Gratefulness arises when we can identify what we are grateful for. Having a job is one idea but it is not the key. The key is being seen, valued, appreciated, and heard.

    The best leaders question how you help your employees fulfill all of these needs. It is possible to find ways to fulfill those needs and you will see the results.

    Do you want to

    • reduce stress and achieve harmony in your personal and professional life?
    • be a more effective and efficient leader in your workplace?

    If you want to be on top of your game, then you will benefit the most from coaching.

    I am offering a free 20-minute consultation to help you decide which coaching package is best for you. Click the button below to schedule a call.

    Dr. Brenda Kelleher-Flight