Save The Drama For Your Momma: Personal Accountability

February 17, 2011 — 2 Comments

We have all experienced workplace drama in one form or another. It can be unpleasant, irritating, and disruptive  – often preventing organizations from effectively meeting their goals.  As a leader, you are responsible for maintaining a productive, drama-free workplace. You rely on people to do their jobs in such a way that results are successfully achieved. Because you work with people to get things done, you are likely to experience drama in the workplace. It can sometimes feel like an experience similar to the television show “The Nanny” – the kids (your organization) are spoiled and/or unruly, and you are the Nanny – responsible for teaching the foundational skills that lead to organizational success. However, in the workplace (just as with dysfunctional families) the gossip, complaining, and backstabbing leads to full blown negativity that will result in increased turnover and absenteeism. How you manage drama within your organization may determine your ultimate outcomes.

It may feel personal at times, but as the “Nanny”, it is your job to get the children back in line, ensuring they learn and engage in appropriate behaviors that will create positive results for the organization. For the next few weeks, we will explore several ideas – hopefully providing you, the leader, with a toolbox to ensure that you are in a position to eliminate (or at least drastically reduce) drama in the workplace. If you successfully manage the drama, you are much more likely to see the positive results you desire.

A key component to getting drama under control is promoting personal accountability – however, this can be extremely challenging. An indicator of irresponsible thinking, and a lack of accountability, is drama in the workplace. It manifests itself as complaining and excuse making – and probably causes you to spend your time putting out fires unnecessarily. The reason employees participate in blaming, complaining, backstabbing and excuse making is because it lessens the pain and discomfort that taking responsibility and being accountable for their part in the drama requires.

When you step in to fix the problem for an individual or team before they have made a valid attempt at independent resolution, they continue to respond from a victim mentality instead of an empowered and responsible mindset. They come to expect you to come to the rescue with increasing frequency. If you are spending excess time putting out fires instead of developing accountable, responsible employees, you are inevitably wasting time, energy and resources that could be spent on generating positive results.

A key component to building accountability and responsibility across an organization is putting boundaries and systems in place for dealing with issues and challenges that employees may encounter. We are not talking about HR issues – we are specifically dealing with discontent between individuals or amongst team members that is not of an egregious nature.

An “open door policy” often sounds good, however if you are working in a drama infested environment, you may want to reconsider that policy.  Instead of an open door at any time, you can set office hours for open and honest discussion – with strict parameters.  Anyone coming through the door must come with specific criteria if they have an issue or challenge:

  1. They must have a brief, yet clear synopsis of the situation
  2. They must understand how the situation impacts productivity, customer service, teamwork and/or the bottom line
  3. They must always come with some initial possibilities or ideas to resolve the matter

This lets everyone in the organization know that you are serious about hearing their issues and challenges, but that you are also very serious about expecting them to have thought through the situation and be prepared to help solve the problem.

Whether it’s complaining, negative attitudes or stress-related illnesses – workplace drama hampers productivity, as well as affecting both organizational and personal effectiveness. Employees need to understand clearly and concisely that they are responsible for finding a way to change an unproductive situation, or accept it as the norm – anything else is just drama.

Are you unintentionally enabling drama in your organization?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you manage drama in your organization. Feel free to contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back next week for the next post on Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.


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Sheri is The Global Coach, founder of Luminosity Global Consulting Group, Global Executive Coach, Speaker, Writer and Global Business and Cultural Expert.

2 responses to Save The Drama For Your Momma: Personal Accountability

  1. This is the downfall of so many new managers, when they want the extra compensation that comes with management, but have such little patience for drama. There is such a fine line, but once you allow one person to avoid accountability, you send a message to everyone else that it is OK to make excuses.

    In my past, an employee’s performance history in accepting responsibility is key to how I respond to their excuse. Usually they don’t make excuses. but approach me in the method you recommended.

    I wonder how much of a person’s lack of accountability can be assessed on the front end. I know there are assessments, but which assessments are most effective or what selections processes prove valuable.

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