Boss Fights: The Toll Workplace Politics Takes On College Workers

By Timothy Hayes on March 25, 2015

For any gamer out there, the phrase “boss fight” evokes a sense of anticipated dread and excitement. The final stage of a level of the game frustrates and encourages players everywhere to keep fighting because they’re almost done.

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Unfortunately, this problem is not the same in real life. For employees, boss fights are an unanticipated, universally dreaded encounter everyone would do well to avoid. However, they happen and you can’t avoid them when they do.

Fights in any work environment can be a serious detriment to business. These brawls, serious or passing, affect a team’s morale, cohesiveness and effectiveness. These usually start out very small and petty, but can quickly boil up into a disaster ending with people quitting, loss of clientele and terminations.

Fights in a workplace, whether it’s between coworkers or subordinates and bosses, are not good for healthy teamwork, obviously. By creating divisions in a team, a fight can quickly degrade the quality of the work that team is capable of putting out. If Jack is mad at Sally for that thing she said about him four days ago, when they work together, an essential part of teamwork chemistry is lost.

If fights break out and don’t get handled, they quickly become the center of splits in the team. This them-versus-us mentality severely cripples your ability to get any work done well.

For instance, if a manager has a problem with one of their subordinates and continuously puts them in a job they hate, that subordinate might consider quitting. Then you’ve lost an otherwise perfectly good employee to a simple bit of bickering.

Instead, whatever the issue with the employee is should be confronted head on. Talk to that person and find out what the problem is so that steps can be made to correct or alleviate it.

By cutting back on the banter and getting along or at least ignoring people, the team can put out a better work effort. With their differences behind or aside, team members can work together to get the product or service done better or faster.

If this doesn’t happen, it communicates to clientele that the team is poorly managed and that their patronage might be better done elsewhere. To accomplish this, encourage team members to talk about their problems in a civil manner. Managers can mediate, but unless involved directly, should let the employees sort themselves out.

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If an employee picks a fight with management or vice versa, the first steps should be taken by the management. Confront the team member and ask them about the problem. Listen with open ears and don’t have a firm plan going into the conversation. If you do, you will not be able to listen to what might be genuine problems.

Instead, have only an idea of what you need to speak with them about and get to the core of the problem. From there, you can correct any policy violations and patch up any problems.

If confrontation does not take place, then rumors start and the manager or team leader who is not taking care of the problem runs the risk of insubordination. Team members may say one thing to that manager’s face and do another. This loss of cohesiveness due to spite is a major pitfall.

Make sure that management is dealing with the problems as they arise and let team members know that they can and should come forward if they have a problem. It is better to have someone scream in your face and get the problem out than let it fester and get worse.

If physical altercations break out, instigators will obviously need discipline, but that is up to company policy. Hopefully, this can be stopped before it happens with simple shift switches. Stop scheduling the problem employees together and they can’t get to each other.

When these issues are not addressed openly, I can tell you from personal experience, work becomes a drag for everyone. When you get hauled into drama with no particular cause or purpose, work becomes a giant complaining fest. That kind of attitude does not make for a fun, safe, or effective work environment.

One of my coworkers found out that one of the managers had a problem with him and that was why he kept getting put in the back room cleaning. Finally one day, he flat out asked her what was going on. She told him, he apologized, and now the workplace environment is much more enthusiastic and effective. A simple question can solve tons of problems.

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When fights or bickering start, they should be stamped out immediately, or like a cigarette butt in June, they can rage out of control. Get on the problem quickly and make sure that one side or the other is not continuing the problem.

An effective bit of conversation can get problems off someone’s chest and get the ball rolling again.

By Timothy Hayes

Uloop Writer
Ohio State
I'm a Sophomore at The Ohio State University. My major is Journalism. I used to hate writing until a very passionate 6th grade teacher showed me how fun it could be. Since then, I've expanded my skills and portfolio to encompass short stories, poetry, articles, speeches, movies scripts and play scripts.

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