Friday, January 27, 2017

5 easy steps to deal with fire starters at the workplace

Fire starters who exist in the workplace are called Batu Api in Malay. These are individuals or groups of people who enjoy starting rumors or spreading misinformation with the intention of harming the reputation of individuals or the company. The end goal is usually to create chaos and unhappiness for their own gain. There could be several reasons why fire starters do what they do. Some do it out of rivalry and jealousy. Others do it to impair the reputation of others, to advance their own careers, to cover failures and to score points. In fact, the arsonist typically has an agenda and seeks to destroy or bring attention to himself / herself. The end result is a weakened team because people become suspicious of each other, resulting in a disarrayed and misaligned organization in achieving its goals. So how do we deal with workplace fire starters and the damage they cause…focus on 2 aspects: manage the fire starter (individual) and make the workplace fire resistant (environment).

Establish and live core values
>> core values are a set of behavioral guidelines that are established and promoted to everyone in the workplace. Core values are a contract of sorts, binding everyone from management to employees to behave agreeably. When management walks the talk and demonstrates core values, trust will grow and transparency will prevail, making it difficult for anyone to spark any fire.

Build trust >> a solid sense of trust between management and employees themselves mitigates the credibility of rumors and misinformation.

Transparency >> a transparent workplace means that management is easily accessible to employees (open door policy) and they make an effort to keep employees fully informed of developments within the workplace.

Keep your eyes & ears open >> watch out for signs of dissatisfaction, either through changes in employees’ behavior or through signals picked up through casual conversation. Engaging potential issues early on gives you the opportunity to nip issues in the bud or tackle fires while they are still small.

Neutralize the fire starter >> fire starters are either those who enjoy creating troubles or those who are unhappy and are trying to seek attention to their situations. Identify the fire starters first, then try to engage and coach them to channel their energy to achieve greater and more meaningful goals for themselves and for the organization.

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