Toxic, Destructive Behavior in the Workplace– Bully, Harass, Dishonesty: Sapping Morale and Destroying Productivity…

Destructive behavior– abusive, hostile, dishonesty… are rampant in today’s work place: It can be displayed as subtle harassing, bullying… or, as aggressive, destructive, toxic and dangerous behavior which can sabotage an organization. As a result organizations are faced with increased turnover of high performers, increased absenteeism, decreased productivity… 

Toxic employees create an environment that is full of strife, angst, and destruction… For many leaders they know that it’s happening but they are not equipped to handle the bullies, and they hope that the problem will resolve itself, or just go away. But on the contrary, rarely does this type of behavior stop and in many cases they escalate…

However, before you can measure the impact of destructive behavior it’s helpful to have a definition, such as; destructive behavior is a systematic and repeated behavior by an individual that violates the legitimate interest of the organization by undermining and sabotaging the organization’s– goals, tasks, resources, effectiveness, motivation, well-being…

Some experts define it as; repetitive abusive behavior that devalues and harms other people on the job. Workplace destructive behavior may not be physically violent but relies on the formidable weapons of hostile actions and words… Many experts believe that workplace conflict is unavoidable: It’s simply human nature…

According to Bimal Parmar; it’s possible that the type of people you hire naturally foster conflict. You need to imagine how the hyper-competitive sales person is going to work with a more laid-back artistic marketing person, or the highly analytic member of the accounting team. If you’ve got team full of prima-donnas, strong competitive culture for customers  and commissions, then you’re bound to have conflict… competition can breed conflict…

Any way you look at your company’s people, processes, and procedures– the odds are great that there’s tension bubbling somewhere just beneath the surface… The best way to deal with conflict is to recognize and accept that it’s going to happen. But, remember that a clash of personalities is usually destructive when conflict becomes personal– it’s toxic. However, having a workplace where there is conflict of ideas, then that can be powerfully creative…

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In the article How to Stop Destructive Behavior by Renee Cocchi  writes: It’s inevitable, employees argue, ideas clash and departments lock horns… Some of that conflict breeds creativity but more of it breeds discontent, poor performance and hurt feelings, it’s a recipe for disaster in any workplace… Conflict in the workplace can be anything from petty fights and gossip to bad attitudes and violence, and it eats away at good organizations. The employees that are directly involved often lose valuable time stewing or worrying.

Those workers who witness conflicts often just waste time and energy gossiping about them… If these are not enough reasons for executives and supervisors to get a handle on workplace conflict, consider this: Employees lose almost three hours of work each week – at a national cost of about $360 billion a year – because they’re caught up in some kind of conflict… And most people who are victims of rude or out-of-line behavior at work will have a lingering dip in performance, and it’s likely they won’t treat the next people they deal with very well…

For sure you’ll never totally eliminate conflict in the workplace; in fact, some conflict is good it spurs innovation and creativity. But too much conflict affects employees, bosses and the company’s bottom line. So it pays for executives – supervisors to keep a watchful eye out for unhealthy conflict. Then they can step-in, manage the situation and help employees move on… Leaders can set the tone for workplace conflict by how they handle their own and how they treat their employees, for example; four best-practices for setting the right tone: Communicate well, listen better, create healthy boundaries, create behavioral consequences and follow through on them…

In the article Do You Have a ‘Cathy’ In Your Workplace? by Renee writes: Cathy wasn’t just your average bully – Cathy was known as a Queen Bully (capital Q and B). Cathy was a nurse and everyone was afraid of her – physicians too! Cathy used intimidation and overt criticism as her bully weapons of choice. If you asked her a question, she made you feel like an idiot. One of her frequent comments was; where did you get your nursing degree– in a Cracker Jack box? And would then mumble; I’m working with a bunch of idiots– as she walked away.

Everything about Cathy reeked of general disdain for people: Her body language (arms crossed, squinting eyes with fire shooting from them, lips curled back like an angry dog); her word choices (never positive – always negative); and her refusal to help others (even in a crisis) conveyed a message; you’re not worthy of me… Do you have a Cathy in your workplace? I hope not but unfortunately, she does exist in many workplaces.

But you might ask, with much organizational focus on eliminating destructive behavior in the workplace, how could someone like Cathy still have a job? Here are two reasons: 1). No person documented their experiences with Cathy and filed formal complaint. Everybody talks about Cathy, but talk is just that…talk. Without taking action Cathy can hide behind HR rules and avoid getting put on the disciplinary path… 2). The manager uses silence as a strategy, or the manager might be afraid of Cathy too, or the manager might not have the skill-set to appropriately address Cathy’s behavior…

Dealing with behaviors of employees is a skill that can be learned! Learn them! Remember, what you ignore – you condone…

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In the article Why the Workplace Is So Destructive by Douglas LaBier writes: In a Gallup poll of more than 150,000 U.S. workers 70% are ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ and emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and less likely to be productive… Moreover, only 41% of employees felt that they know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors’ brands…

Gallup pointed out that—‘engaged’ employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward, while those ‘disengaged’ are essentially ‘checked out’, and they can have a negative influence on the organization… ‘Actively disengaged’ employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness with disruptive and destructive actions…

According to Lillian Cunningham; an organization’s productivity-profitability are directly tied to employee ‘engagement’. So when only 30% of the U.S. workforce is motivated that’s an economic problem as well as a morale problem– the two are interwoven… Other surveys show a range of damage to people and productivity: A survey by ‘Harris Interactive’ finds that about 83% of workers report feeling stressed out by their jobs, and the sources cited include; too much work, insufficient pay, not enough time for rest-sleep, too little leisure time, co-worker conflicts, general work-life imbalance…

But these surveys don’t tap into more pervasive, underlying sources, such as; boredom, lack of people skills, unsupportive management, absence of opportunities to learn and grow, outright abusive, arrogant and narcissistic bosses… A survey of 2,000 workers found that 47% said their managers made them feel threatened, rather than rewarded and 24% thought their bosses were poor communicators, lacking empathy… Demoralization increases when work isn’t very engaging or when opportunities for continued growth and expanding competencies are limited or blocked…

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In the article Destructive Behavior in the Workplace by Bonnie Swain Schindly writes: Don’t let destructive behavior go unchecked– employers are wrestling with destructive behavior in the workplace that stifles productivity, exhausts morale and drains company coffers. Organizations have limited control over many external  activities that can be detrimental to business, such as; loud, irritable customers… But for internal company behavior, managers can jump-out ahead of negative conduct before it seeps through an entire department…

First steps typically involve recognizing tell-tale signs that something is amiss in the office, and then figuring out how to deal with the problem, for example; bullying, theft, substances, bad habits… Destructive behavior does not always present itself in a single incident sometimes it starts small, through bad habits and evolves into a much bigger problem over time. For example, an employee might voice minor irritation over work duties until the behavior escalates into frequent temper tantrums and snappishness.

Another pattern that chews away at productivity is overuse of personal emails or social media on company time… An employee’s best hedge against these behaviors is to develop a strong sense of self-awareness and ask oneself whether their doing anything that takes value away from the company…

Research is very explicit; successful teams must establish and maintain trust in their relationship if they are to function effectively and sustain success. According to Dr. John Byrnes; trust may be thought of as an individual’s expression of confidence or optimistic expectation in the intentions and motives of others…

According to Patrick Lencioni; first and foremost team dysfunction is the absence of trust. Teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another. Lacking trust, relationships may be altered into adversarial attitudes: ‘me’ versus ‘you’, ‘us’ versus ‘them’... which often breeds deep and hidden animosities, rather than goodwill… The antithesis of trust is threat, and threat is the genesis of aggression.

An article in the Wall Street Journal began: A deep cynicism has settled over corporate America as many employees wonder how much, if at all they can trust their bosses. There are many dimensions to leadership, but focus on the element of trust, which many believe is a key to leadership in an age of uncertainty…

According to Sir Richard Branson; we… believe the world is at critical crossroads… global-business leaders need to come together to advance the well-being of people and the planet… but, the question is whether this effort to transform business goals and practices will include transforming the internal behavior and culture of organizations…

As the Gallup survey pointed out; managers are primarily responsible for employees’ engagement levels and organizations– must coach managers to take an active role in building engagement with employees, they must hold managers accountable, they must track manager’s progress and ensure that they continuously focus on actively engaging their employees….