The Dysfunctional Office

Working in a dysfunctional office is stressful and often prompts employees to look elsewhere, but what if you are the office manager? Leaving may not be an option and, to be brutally honest, you are the responsible party – leaving may only mean taking it with you. This is not to say that you are the dysfunctional person, but rather that, as manager, you are responsible for setting the tone. It is your “job” to recognize and correct dysfunction.

Begin by evaluating your management style. Are you creating an atmosphere conducive to a positive environment or a dysfunctional one? Ask yourself these questions.
• Am I conveying the company vision adequately to my staff and employees?
• Am I actively supporting the company mission statement with my words and actions?
• Am I an authentic leader who provides direction and clear expectations?
• Do I hold myself, and others, accountable to designated responsibilities?
• Do I ask for input and listen to the answers?
• Do I value my staff and employees, and express it through words of affirmation and tangible tokens of appreciation?

Once you have honestly evaluated your own actions, and made any necessary changes, it’s time to dig deeper and diagnose the problems among your staff/employees. According to Baird Brightman, PhD, the six most toxic behaviors to watch for include:
• Aggressiveness
• Narcissism
• Lack of credibility
• Passivity
• Disorganization
• Resistance to change

Discuss these, and any other consistently witnessed negative behaviors, in general with all your employees as a group. Do not point fingers at specific employees – simply discuss the attitudes and behaviors that create dysfunction and point out better solutions. Ask for their input. Establish parameters for acceptable behavior. Appropriate standards include:
• Respectful communications – avoiding backbiting and gossip
• Completing your responsibilities promptly
• Flexibility
• Not usurping others authority or invading their domain
• Giving credit to whom it is due
• Focusing on the good of the whole

If this isn’t enough to correct the dysfunction, pay attention to the source of negative behaviors. Step back from the problem and examine the issues. Sometimes it’s the result of employees being placed in the wrong positions for their temperament and/or skills. Sometime just understanding why someone acts/respond the way they do, enables you to incorporate corrective measures. Discuss the problem privately with the individual and give them an opportunity to make changes. Be fair and kind, but firm in your expectations. If they make the necessary changes, you’ve gained a loyal employee and improved the whole working environment. If there aren’t sufficient changes after an adequate period of time, then better the expense of letting an employee go and dealing with a new hire, than continuing to overlook a dysfunctional office.

Obviously, the best way to deal with dysfunction is to prevent it in the first place by true leadership and wise hiring. Contact Springborn Staffing. We will help you find the right people and provide the right screening to encourage great hires, which promote healthy working environments. We are your best solution in Portland and Bangor, Maine.

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