You might be a drama maker if…..
Great managers create a work environment where opinions and emotions are shared appropriately and productively. They help reduce drama. It is doubly important, then, that managers not be the source of workplace drama. Some people have good self-awareness and know whether they create drama, but many don’t recognize it. You might be a drama maker if:
- You are a complainer – a glass-is-half-empty type who never seems satisfied with things. If this is you, consider that most people would prefer not to work with chronic complainers. You don’t want to be someone people would rather avoid than work with.
- You regularly make requests that are all about you – your comfort, your preferences, your time, etc… Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of making requests that help move the work forward. Drama makers make requests about things and situations that do not matter to the average person, do not impact results and are more about them and their perception of what they deserve. Great leaders know that it is not about them and that success comes from serving others.
- You are moody and emotionally unpredictable. Do you assign too much or the wrong meaning to everyday business situations? Drama makers often display big swings in mood based on their feelings about how their day is going.
- You make mountains out of mole hills. Drama makers often react in ways that are out of whack and over the top.
These behaviors can show up in any situation. I recently attended a two-day workshop and was seated next to someone who was clearly a drama maker. He was overly fussy, asked lots of questions that had little to do with the workshop’s topic and insisted on ordering something not found on the planned dinner menu (his special needs were not related to any food allergy or intolerance). In and of themselves, none of these actions are bad, but as a pattern, they come together and are an unnecessary nuisance. Although a smart and nice guy, after a few hours I was hoping they would shuffle the seating arrangements. He stood out in an unfavorable way and made things more difficult for others.
Here is another example. I had a drama maker work for me several years ago. She was overly sensitive and was the type to make a big deal out of routine business setbacks and changes. I had to frequently coach her about how she was coming across and how her defensiveness and resulting moodiness got in the way of her goals and intentions. She managed a team of folks who learned that it was better to not tell her about minor challenges or frustrations because she would overreact to them. This dynamic – employees creating work-arounds to compensate for their ineffective managers – was very concerning and she was not a successful manager as a result.
What should you do if you are a drama maker? Self-awareness is priceless and will give you the opportunity to become less of a productivity hurdle for your team and peers. Imagine you are a fly on your shoulder, following you around and observing your actions. Notice how you respond to others and your level of fussiness and dissatisfaction with things. Ask yourself, does this really matter? Should it really matter? Am I the only one responding in this way? Is there another way to channel my energy that would be more helpful? Should I just chill out? As a coach, “chill out,” are words that I find I need to use a lot.
Full disclosure: I used to be a much fussier person and a bit of a drama maker myself. I am a recovering control freak now, but I used to assert myself much more than was needed or helpful (assertiveness is good; asserting oneself in every situation is often not productive). Good news! There is hope and you can become a more flexible and even-keeled individual. I believe that drama makers can be cured – or at least treated. The payoffs of becoming less of a barrier will be worth it: people will enjoy working with you, you will feel more satisfied, and productivity will improve.
Workplace drama gets in the way of clarity, focus, and open communications. As a manager, you want to be a part of the solution for reducing workplace drama, not the source of it.