Things usually run smoothly, and for most part, your team and workmates are supportive, productive and show respect and kindness towards one another. But there is one team member who over time, has shown an underlying disregard for others.
Disruptive behaviour can include verbal confrontations, sarcasm, emotional outbursts, sending nasty emails, strategically holding back information or taking credit for others’ work. Rather than tolerate the peaks and troughs of rudeness and subtle signs of a disengaged employee — there are always ways to deal with this issue. Here’s how:
There’s a reason for everything! You’ve hired this employee because of their skills and ability to do the job, but, what is causing their disruptive behaviour? The international Work & Stress journal, recently surveyed 500 employees to find out what causes employees to behave badly. Researchers identified five key factors:
- Victim of disrespect: This is where an employee is displaying negative behaviour because they have been subjected to the same behaviours. This can be confronting for managers as rude employees may be in fact modelling their own behaviour.
- Workplace stress: Sometimes a demanding workload and an inability to cope with demands can cause the disruptive behaviour. Instead of motivating and aiding performance, it can paralyse and push employees to behave irrationally.
- Change: When organisations go through re-structures and change programs this causes employees to become unsure, threatened and insecure. These feelings impact employees differently and can cause employees take out their frustration on their colleagues.
- Insecurity: Similar to the impacts of organisational change, where an employee feels that their job is unsafe or their skills are being tested, they can become defensive and threatened.
- Lack of social support: This reflects the level of support and connection your team has for one another. If reliance on each other is low, then a major overhaul of the way you work in your team is needed ASAP. The aim is to create an environment where employees are encouraged to work together rather than compete against each other. It’s also an opportunity to encourage your team to share ideas, speak up to ask for help and resolve issues rather than ignore them.
2. Take notes
Once you’ve considered the reasons (if any!) behind the behaviour, it’s now time to take control of the situation. It can be confronting and uncomfortable for managers but it is absolutely necessary to deal with rude behaviour before it spreads throughout your team.
Assess whether their behaviour has violated your company’s policy or core values. Is it serious enough to move to a formal meeting immediately? If you don’t have a policy or documented core values that outline clearly acceptable behaviours, take the following common sense approach and take time to document the instances of the rude and disrespectful behaviour. Detail the date, time and situation. This concrete evidence will help you when it’s time to meet with the employee.
3. Provide feedback
Your employee can’t fix something if he or she is unaware of their behaviour and how it is affecting others. Your first action is to make sure the employee knows how they’re coming across and what you consider acceptable, and the fact they need to make some changes. This might be as simple as a quick ‘shoulder tap’ or it might require an informal meeting. If an informal meeting is needed, ensure that you are objective and have a plan of how you will conduct the meeting including:
Purpose and opening
Avoid blaming or intimidating you employee and instead frame the discussion in a way that is professional, objective and conversational. Here’s an example of how you can start the meeting:
“Thanks for meeting with me John, I called today’s informal meeting because I want to have a chat to you about some recent behaviour that isn’t aligned with our company values. I have a number of instances that have shown some disruptive behaviour and today I want to provide the opportunity to find out what is going on and how we can work with you to get you back on track…”
Voice your concerns about their behaviour
Using your detailed notes, explain the instances that the employee has been rude or acted unprofessionally. It’s important to remain calm. After all, you want to find out why they are behaving that way, provide information about your expectations and how they might be able to improve. The aim is always to try to move past the bad stuff and get on with the job.
Time to listen
Despite their behaviour, always give the employee the opportunity to explain their actions. Acknowledge their feelings but be firm that their disrespectful behaviour will not be tolerated and let them know how their actions negatively impact the whole team and morale. You should also explain that disciplinary action will be taken if the behaviour continues.
4. Resolved or ongoing saga?
In most situations, once an employee has been spoken to about their behaviour and acceptable standards, then you may see a slow change or an overnight shift – both of these are great!
If the behaviour continues you should consider a more formal approach possibly resulting in disciplinary action, including formal written warning or even termination depending on the circumstances. You should seek professional advice if you decide you need to take any formal steps, to make sure that you follow the required processes.
You don’t need to tolerate rude behaviour from employees. Don’t put your head in the sand and ignore it anymore! As a business owner or manager, you CAN take control and you CAN stamp out behaviour that isn’t doing your business, your team and culture any favours.
We’re experts in resolving employee relations and performance management issues. Contact HR Staff n’ Stuff if you need some assistance.
Photo credit: brianna.lehman via Visual Hunt / CC BY