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Jun
25
Alex Somos

The question of “how do I cut the crap at work?” is a sentiment expressed to us over and over by employees (sometimes worded even more forcefully).

Time and again, Juice clients turn to us to help eliminate the inter-office negativity that permeates—and infects—their work environment.

When they approach us, business leaders are fed up with all the inter-personal friction in their workplace.

They don’t want a culture where people talk behind each other’s backs. They want people to get along and focus on their work.

But despite leaders’ efforts, silos and cliques prevail.

Unskillful expressions

When people or groups are at odds with each other, it is often because they feel their needs are not being met.

At Juice, we refer to this behaviour as an “unskillful expression of an unmet or driving need.”

In the work environment, people are driven by five needs: for security, belonging, freedom, significance, and purpose.

Not every one of these needs is of equal importance to every person. As a result, these kinds of competing needs can create powerful tensions.

For example, people may use an unskillful expression such as forming cliques, excluding others and gossiping to acquire acceptance or a sense of belonging.

Don’t play the game

If you are trying to “cut the crap at work”, leaders as well as employees need to observe what’s really going on, and be willing to step into potentially difficult conversations.

Rather than be the silent third party, you must be willing to speak up. For example, if someone is trashing a co-worker behind their back, you may say something along the lines of:

  • “You know what? I think this conversation would be better with the person you’re talking about than with me. Could I ask you to have that conversation?” or
  • “I recognize this is a difficult issue for you; but the best person for you to deal with this is the person who created it.”

In the workplace, every conversation matters. Our ability to step into those tension-filled moments is critical.

Uncover unmet needs

If employees’ needs are met, energy is released inside of us—and that can be critical to the success of your organization.

Now, it’s all about uncovering those unmet needs.

Good leaders take the initiative to get the answers they need, versus being passive.

Take this example: Recently a client talked to us about an employee he inherited, who had an absenteeism problem. When the manager approached the conversation and stepped into the tension without judgement or criticism, he discovered that the employee’s stress was not caused by work/life balance issues as originally believed: what surfaced was that she felt unsupported and not valued as a person. There had been some conflict with others in the department, and her previous managers had not supported the resolution of the problem.

The next time you hear whisperings or experience office politics, don’t grit your teeth or plot revenge:  take time to learn and understand what those people’s unmet needs are.

It just may be the key to unlocking a much improved, shiny and new culture.

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Brady Wilson

Brady Wilson

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Alex Somos

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