Friday, August 31, 2007

Workplace Tension Can't Be Ignored

Workplace Tension Can't Be Ignored - Part One

Do you have people on your team that don't get along? Perhaps it's you that has a hard time with someone else? Workplace tension is one the leading causes of employee dissatisfaction, absenteeism, diminished productivity and employee and customer turnover.

We have all likely experienced workplace tension at some point in our lives; probably more than once. It can be painful, disturbing and lead to many sleepless nights and plenty of ongoing anxiety.

Some companies ignore the situation all together in hopes that it "will just work itself out." Some do, the news has been littered with stories of workplace shootings these past several years. Some companies get very parochial and call offending parties on the carpet and expect a momentary tongue lashing to solve the problems. This is the adult version of being called into the Principal's office to be told that the "big fight" that is supposed to happen at 3PM on the playground isn't going to happen between you and the school bully. Sure, sure the fight won't happen today when the Principal is watching for it, it will just move to tomorrow much like how employee strife continues to live on after the "trip to the office" but now may be worse. Still other companies choose to try to assuage the situation by scheduling team-building days in hopes that by doing a ropes course or round of Kum Ba Ya songs around the old campfire will magically transform mortal workplace enemies into beer drinking buds.

Many of these things though practical in certain circumstances, and as a former boss, easier and less stressful to implement are often high in cost, short on results and lack congruent solution to a burgeoning problem that can and will continue to grow.

One of my favorite quotes that I am sorry to say I can't find a reference to the source to give proper credit is....
"Resentment is the super secret promise of revenge."

Workplace tension is often very much the embodiment of resentment and, and this is big, the true lack of communication. AND knew I was going to say it....CONNECTION.

In the next post I will give some ideas that companies can consider to ease workplace tension and how the Ripple philosophy can be implemented within the corporate culture to help diminish (notice I didn't say eliminate) tension amongst employees. Stay Tuned!


We weekend will be jam packed as I begin working on finalizing the outline for my new book, finish some material for an upcoming training I am giving and take another pass at the new virtual course I plan to launch in the next several weeks. Plus there is so much football on this weekend that I likely will be glued to my television morning, noon and night kicking back in my comfy overstuffed rocker while I watch the games and pound on my laptop to do the work I just publicly committed to do (how's that for accountability). Have some new beer steins that need to be properly broken in as well so AFTER the work I will see about breaking them in proper!
Hope everyone has a great Labor Day Weekend!

Ripple On!!!



Anonymous said...

Hey Steve;

I work for a fairly large company and I have to agree that the biggest problem I see when dealing with workplace tension is communication - or more rightly so 'the lack, thereof'.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones because my particular shift takes me away from the mainstream of the company population and I have a small crew which enables us to deal directly with many of our problems amongst ourselves through open dialogue and mutual respect for each other. It really makes a difference.

Take care;

Anji said...

My husband has a boss who runs things so badly some of his collegues have cracked up completely. Communication (or lack of it) is the root of all of the problems.

I feel exhasted reading everything you have to do. Where do you get your energy?

Thomas Henry Magness said...

Hey Steve,

I'm finding some workplace tension issues here in my organization. Working through this is consistent with one of my hats, namely that of "Chief Communication Officer." Even though I am new, I know this is how I can influence team morale and productivity. Get people talking...and listening...and operating consistent with our values. Thanks for the post and enjoy your weekend.

P.S. I'm not happy with the Longhorns. That score was too close for my comfort! Hooah!

Steve Harper said...

Thanks Anna. You are lucky and it sounds like you have an ideal work environment. Some people reading your comment will undoubtedly be jealous.

Ripple On!!!


Steve Harper said...


My energy is sort of my lucky chip in the game. I have a lot of it and use it to the best of my ability. I sort of figure that life is short and you need to make the most of it. A way of thinking that I have only recently started subscribing too.

My wife might totally disagree with that when it comes to doing anything around the house but that is a completely different matter.

I would love to know more about your husband's situation. I am working on some case studies for a training I give. Not sure if that is possible but figured it was worth putting out there.

Thanks for your comments as always!

Ripple On!!!


Steve Harper said...


"Chief Communications Officer?" I love the title. Would also love to hear what kind of issues you are dealing with at work. It has been too long and perhaps we could circle back for a phone chat one of these days and catch up?

Ripple On My Friend!


Anji said...

I'm not sure that I can give you too many details because my husband works for the French monuments run by the government. It really is run badly all round, coupled with the attitude of a guaranteed 'job for life' for state employees. His boss arrived here because was moved sideways, he's created lots of jobs (that's his good point), he seems to enjoy humiliating his staff. If he worked for the private sector he'd have been got rid of years ago