A Simple Trick to End Team Turmoil

Last Updated Jan 28, 2009 6:16 PM EST

Ever deal with a team in turmoil? The bickering, the backbiting, the bad attitudes? Yep, me too, and it's not fun. And with the Wall Street fallout raining down around all our heads, stress in the workplace is steadily climbing, which means tolerance can be in short supply.

But here's a simple trick, courtesy of the Vertabase Blog, to help you resolve workplace disputes: adopt a "say it to my face" policy. That is, don't let anyone say anything negative about a co-worker unless that person is present.

Don't tolerate exceptions and help keep the policy in place. If Jane Doe comes into your office with a complaint about John Worker, tell her to hold that thought and call John in as well. While you're waiting, chat with Jane about her own efforts and progress; when John shows up, invite Jane to re-air the issue about John.

Why is this beneficial? For a few reasons...

  • Jane is more likely to take a respectful and reasonable tone in presenting her complaint
  • John is less likely to be defensive in his response
  • Perhaps Jane's problem with John was due to a limited understanding of his situation; this offers an opportunity for further insight and information on both sides
  • The kvetching has less time to fester behind the scenes and potentially snowball into a bigger problem
  • You are no longer the go-between - instead, you're the moderator
Over time, the policy can enhance better communication and understanding among your team members, as well as nip brewing problems in the bud. Tension and friction will be reduced, productivity will increase, and your job will get a lot easier.

(image by *clairity* via Flickr, CC 2.0)

  • CC Holland

    CC Holland is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a number of national magazines. Online, she was a columnist for AnchorDesk.com and writes regularly for Law.com and BNET. On the other side of the journalism desk, she's been a managing editor for ZDNet, CNet, and KCBS-TV in Los Angeles, where she earned an APTRA Best News Web Site award.