Ignore or Confront? – Managing workplace anomalies


As a leader you may have encountered work place anomalies. These could be a person who is always late, anxiety between co-workers to co-workers or employees to managers or vice versa, moody employees and other difficult situations. These anomalies could be bothersome but these definitely requires your attention. 



As a leader, our decisions are crucial and you maybe threatened by the fact that your action or inaction could result in resignations from your most valued employees.



In times like these, you can implement strict rules to minimise the anomalies, or fire the one who is causing the anomaly but I do like to take the more constructive approach.



First you need to question, who is causing the anomaly? Is this someone who is providing value to the company or institution? Is this someone who is still sharing the same vision of that of the company? Is this someone you still want to keep in the company or not? 



If the answer is yes, then the next step really boils down into two: either you ignore or confront. There shouldn’t be a middle ground here. You can’t treat someone unfairly just because you are offended or that his/her actions just wouldn’t align to what you wanted. 



You have to think is the issue really a big deal? Is this something that would damage the productivity of the team? Sometimes it’s better to just ignore and maybe just observe for now. Maybe the anomaly or the issue would just resolve itself. Sometimes to take action would have its negative effects. Maybe the person just had a bad day, or just experiencing some unfortunate events back at home. Or maybe there is a conflict between co-workers that just isn’t a big deal. In these cases you just have to ignore and observe if the issue would resolve itself. 



But you also have to analyse if the issue is disrupting productivity. You have to question if this is affecting other’s behaviour. Is the issue causing the person to be unproductive? If so, then you have to act, you confront. Sometimes you are afraid, especially if the person is a star player, to confront because it might lead to a resignation, but what use is a star player if he/she is not providing value, and is unmotivated. When you confront, you have to be direct to the point. You can’t resolve an issue by just giving hints, or using body language, or maybe implementing strict rules, you have to be direct. My style of confronting is a “casual” approach because I don’t want to intimidate my team, but this would depend on the type of work place. By confronting, you would be able to know the root cause, and with it you can take action. If the issue is between co-worker to co-worker or managers, you cannot take sides, but it’s important to confront the people involved and resolve it if it doesn’t resolve itself. 



As leaders, we try to keep our environment clear of anomalies. We certainly strive to have a workplace that inspires collaboration, but anomalies cannot be totally eliminated and it just boils down into two: either you ignore or confront.