Creating a drama-free office

Ten years ago, Danielle J. Genier, CFP, CLU, had a staff member who loved to gossip. It created tension in the office, and the now-20-year MDRT member from Timmins, Ontario, Canada, decided she needed a new official policy: No drama. Period.

“All employees, when they start, are told that drama is not accepted in the workforce,” Genier said. “If you have something to say to somebody, say it. If you’re not willing to say it, then move on.”

The goal, she said, is removing the culture of judgment that comes from gossip, which she sees as thriving on the judgment of others’ decisions. So Genier, her other advisor and the four administrative staff members are all expected to reinforce a respectful work environment by avoiding any form of drama-causing commentary.

It’s why she was able to assure one new hire that the financial planning office wouldn’t be anything like her previous office, a family business rife with drama between family members. It’s why she has threatened to close the office for the day if that type of conversation continued. And it’s why Genier gave a preliminary notice to a new hire that her known fondness for gossip wouldn’t be tolerated.

“Everybody knows I don’t accept that; drama and gossiping causes friction,” Genier said. “Nobody has to be best friends at work, but you have to be respectful.

“We have to respect how much influence we have on people’s lives. We forget they’re earning a living off of us. It’s easy to talk about the negatives of people and not the positives. We can’t run our companies without our staff, and it has to be win-win. The day one of us isn’t happy, it’s not win-win.”

Learn how the handle office conflicts in this Round the Table cover story

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