how to deal with a drama queen at work

Sales Superstar Flunks Office Rapport 101

Toxic People at Work

What do you do when your star performer with clients is a bull in the china shop in your office? You don’t want to lose her great client work. But you also don’t want toxic people at work poisoning your environment. Let’s explore 3 alternatives for how to deal with a drama queen at work. You’ll come away with a good plan for handling toxic people in your office.

The Situation

You are a senior executive in charge of sales for your company, which sells electrical systems to manufacturers. The good news: Your top sales performer, Karen, is a hit with her clients. The bad news: She is a tyrant in your office.

How can the same person be both? Karen’s clients are plant managers in a no-frills industry. They don’t require any TLC or much relationship connection. Her no-nonsense approach appeals to them. Unfortunately, with her colleagues, Karen is kind of a bull in a china shop. She needlessly steps on toes, runs roughshod, and fails to cultivate give-and-take relationships.

Office Drama

Karen’s behavior is causing serious issues. Some of her colleagues are threatening to transfer because they don’t want to work with her. Also, Karen is not exemplifying the new culture of networking and relationship building that the company is promoting. Ignoring the office drama is not an option. How to deal with a drama queen at work before the situation gets any worse?

Your Choices:

Click the best answer below. Our answer will then highlight with an explanation below.
A. Lay down the law, with her job hanging in the balance.

 No, please try again.

B. Send Karen to training to change her behavior.

 No, please try again.

C. Develop an internal plan, including 360º feedback and tailored coaching.

How to Deal with a Drama Queen at Work

Laying Down the Law?

No doubt, Karen should be aware that this is a serious situation. However, how realistic is it to simply tell her she has to change and expect results without providing a roadmap or coaching?

Also, given that she brings in lots of money to the company, Karen may even question whether her position is really in jeopardy. “Laying down the law” is often just an excuse for a manager to give a team member a piece of his/her mind. Choice A will not effectively quell the office drama. Changing behavior requires more.

Send the Drama Queen to Charm School?

Option B could be part of a process for helping Karen change her in-office behavior. However, it doesn’t go far enough.

It sounds too much like off-loading the problem and expecting other people to solve it. Training must be connected to something. Otherwise, the person being trained may not connect the dots to his/her situation at work, and there is no focus to target the learning.

B is a partial answer for how to deal with a drama queen at work.

Providing Self Awareness and Skill Development

Choice C is the most well-rounded attempt to set the stage for real change. The 360º survey should indicate to Karen that her behavior is hurting the opportunity for productive relationships at work. Becoming more self-aware can set the stage for being open to change.

When coaching follows, tailored to Karen’s specific circumstances, behavioral change will be tied to her working relationships. With follow-up and subsequent 360º evaluations down the road, Karen can maintain her sales stardom while also seeing the benefits of working effectively with her colleagues. Hopefully, she will start exemplifying the new culture without you or anyone else having to dwell on it. Your office drama will become a thing of the past.

Having Aced Drama Queen Handling, What’s Next?

Congratulations on mastering how to deal with a drama queen at work. What other challenging leadership situations might we be able to assist you with?

If you work with a difficult person (and who, at one point or another, doesn’t), our behavioral questionnaire will provide insights on how to effectively handle your situation.

Knowing how to handle challenging people leadership situations is step one. Step two is to try your hand at it in a safe, learning environment, so you can consistently employ Q4 leadership at work and get great results. Check out our Q4 Leadership Workshop, available in classroom or virtual.

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