I’ve recently come across Patti Perez’s book “The Drama-Free Workplace: How You Can Prevent Unconscious Bias, Sexual Harassment, Ethics Lapses, and Inspire a Healthy Culture”. It is perhaps one of the most interesting books I’ve read for a while. Patti has a common sense approach, rather than academic, and she makes some very interesting points. Whilst the book centres on sexual harassment, the issues that are explored could be applied to a range of misconduct situations or teams with a poor workplace culture.
Patti talks early on in her book about the causes of workplace drama, which can be summarised as:
- Inauthentic leadership
- Communication gaps
- Increased division (amongst individuals)
- Culture of complicity
- Lack of transparency
- Persistent confusions
- Problem solving deficit
- Blind Spots (think Johari Window)
- Unwillingness to admit wrong-doing
- Wrong Solution
I think that this is a great list and I’m still thinking about whether there is anything else I would add to it (currently, I have nothing!)
The key theme underlying most of these points is around skills gap: knowing how to problem solve; knowing what you can and can’t say whilst creating an environment of transparency; how to give feedback and actively listen to your team; how to have courage to tackle inappropirate behaviour in a way that has a positive outcome. I could go on.
My observation, as a workplace investigator, is that management do not often see the issues as part of the wider picture – in that the environment they have created has either contributed or prevented the “workplace drama”. Instead, the focus is on the actual incidents themselves. Although there is always an outcome to confirm “what most likely happened and why” with that particular issue, I’m not convinced that employers spend time considering what has been learnt, what needs to change and applying that to the entire organisation. And if there is a period of reflection and learning, to what extent is that done in an inclusive approach?
I could discuss each point in detail, but I’m thinking that I’d rather save that for future blog posts.