Sunday, October 7, 2012

Stuck In The Drama Triangle


A manager’s job is inherently stressful – that’s what makes it fun; an opportunity; a challenge. But it can also be an emotional rollercoaster.

My husband once worked for a manager who repeatedly called his employees at home to discuss… nothing. I think it was his way of sorting out all the ‘clutter’. (I kept wanting to grab the telephone and ask, "What Do You Want From Them?!”)

When emotions run high and ‘thought clutter’ dominates my brain, I have learned that it’s time to make a change. A change that starts with me and the way I think. 

You know how it works; you are aggravated because a rude, opinionated customer complains to you - until you realize that his or her feedback helped you solve a problem or improve a process.

Marlene Chism writes: "The drama is the situation. Your drama is how you react to it.”
I recently read her book Stop Workplace Drama and discovered how relevant the topic is for managers. I learned that a drama-free workplace is ‘peaceful and prosperous’. 

That’s a matter-of-fact way to think about management, too: Great managers create peace and prosperity.

Getting Stuck

Business is about relationships. Relationships that prosper. If you’ve ever dealt with people, you know that not all encounters with other humans end on a high note. Marlene describes the three roles people play in dysfunctional relationships: rescuer, victim and persecutor (the drama triangle).

Me stuck in the drama triangle:
● Lending an employee money (rescuer)
● Feeling sorry for myself because I am overworked (victim)
● Chewing someone out while feeling superior (persecutor)

In the picture above, empowerment describes the life outside the triangle. But I’m not a big fan of it. It’s like the word leadership – not very practical.
A New Perspective

Marlene makes the concept of empowerment actionable:
"The path to developing a great team and positive workplace is empowerment. Leaders must be able to develop other creators. Creators take responsibility. They don’t blame the economy, another person, or a situation. […] ‘Become a creator’ is a fancy way of saying take responsibility.”

It gets even better:

"Responsibility is the recognition of choice."

I love that.

When emotions run high, I can identify the choices I have made, own them, and move forward.
Check out an excerpt from the book here: Setting boundaries and turning employees into problem-solvers.

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