The rumblings start innocently enough—a few people griping about a people problem within a project.
But make no mistake, these vent sessions can fester and turn into a full-blown problem if you don’t keep on top of it.
How do you train your ears and eyes to notice the beginnings of an issue? Office politics happen no matter what you do, but it’s noticing the problem and righting the ship before it goes completely off course that makes for a good leader.
Read on and watch for any of the following 7 signs so you, too, can catch a problem before it becomes a full-blown issue that could cause a ripple effect.
Are your team members always correcting each other? Picking fights about the littlest problem? Do they nit pick each other’s work and try to find something wrong with it even if it’s a stretch?
No one enjoys work when people are feeling attacked all the time. Or, really, even the person (or people) doing the nagging don’t feel good. Nip it in the bud!
When hushed conversations happen all the time or the subject quickly changes as a person enters a room, then it’s likely an issue is brewing in your company. Office gossip is natural, but when it changes to the nasty chatter about the same person over and over, you need to step in.
It’s normal to have a bad day every now and then, but when the answer to “How’s your day?,” starts to always be, “Eh, OK,” or just a shrug, it might be worth checking to see if there’s an underlying problem.
Deadlines get missed. But tasks not getting completed by more than one staff member generally means there’s something going on. Sure, it could be an overburdened team, but don’t dismiss the fact that there could be a toxic environment wearing them down.
“Don’t tell Susie about the happy hour. Then it won’t be fun.”
Ugh. The same person continually snubbed will create a bigger problem if you let it continue. It doesn’t mean that you need to force social interaction when it isn’t right, but blatant leaving out or, worse yet, being obvious about the non-invite is a sure sign that you could have drama on the way.
When even the business owner starts dreading going in on a Monday because ‘they are sick of dealing with drama’, there’s a major problem. Perhaps you find yourself worrying about how to put John and Paul on the same project? Or you think you don’t even want to be in the same room as Anne and the rest of the team? Don’t feel like you can ignore it and it will magically work itself out.
And here’s the worst sign: Your customer mentions hearing two employees bickering. Or the customer tells you he felt awkward when he talked with his salesperson because that person spoke ill of another member of the sales team.
Stay tuned for the next two weeks to learn more about the ripple effect of office politics and how to address it.