Deal with tension in the office- or risk this

Every office I've ever worked in or worked for has some degree of tension. Tension isn't necessarily bad. In fact, a lot of business and organizations skillfully use tension to spark new ideas and innovation.

However, there is lots of unproductive, interpersonal tension out there. This kind of tension happens when there are misunderstandings and unresolved issues between employees. It typically starts small and builds over time. Each person involved is keeping score. They count up slights, criticisms, and decisions that didn't go their way.

And whether you're involved or not, you feel it. It comes out in snarky, sarcastic comments during meetings or in the "meeting after the meeting" when subsets gather for a debrief on what they really think.

Avoiding tension and not dealing with the problems head on erode productivity and trust. The ramifications are worse if you're in a leadership position. Issue avoidance is a signal of weakness that will undermine your ability to motivate and get big goals accomplished.

With that in mind, I wrote this recent article for my column on how to deal with tension in the office before it gets out of control.

Robin Camarote

I'm the co-founder of Federal MicroConsulting and strategic planning consultant based on Falls Church, VA. I am intent on helping leaders get more done with fewer headaches by outlining clear, creative strategies and solutions that build momentum and buy-in at all organizational levels. In addition to consulting, I write regularly for,, and Bloomberg Government on leadership and how to increase your positive impact at work. She is the author of a best-selling book on organizational behavior entitled, Flock, Getting Leaders to Follow and Own It: Drive Your Career to a Place of Happiness and Success. I live with my husband and three children in Falls Church, Virginia.

Are you tracking what matters most?

Performance metrics matter. We know this and yet we continue to track things that have little to do with our goals. The better alternative is to make sure that you're measuring progress against the things that matter most to you and your future. Here are four steps to think through that process.

I'm trying to move away from outputs-- such as number of contracts-- and focus more on outcomes. Did I create a connection with a client? Did a client come back after the project to ask more questions or start another task? Would we both want to work together again?

What do you track on a regular basis?