Bad behavior may happen for thousands of reasons, in all kinds of organizations across the globe.
Bad behavior may happen because people want power and control at work. They respond aggressively when their power is threatened.
Bad behavior may happen because of individual’s social styles. Extroverted, results-oriented players can bulldoze their introverted, relationship-oriented colleagues. Introverted controllers can quash the confidence of extroverted relaters.
Bad behavior may happen because people are unhappy – at home or at work. They may feel unappreciated. They express their unhappiness by being mean or discounting others.
No matter the cause of bad behavior, such behavior has logical and consistent impact on employee engagement, customer service, and results.
Bad behavior from colleagues and leaders in an organization erode engagement, decrease service, and inhibit performance. Other than that, it’s awesome.
Few organizations set out to be difficult to work in or to do business with – yet that’s exactly how they operate.
If leaders of teams, departments, and offices want a high performance, values-aligned culture yet they tolerate behaviors that are inconsistent with that culture, these undesirable results always occur:
Leader credibility is eroded
If leaders say they want a certain culture yet they tolerate poor behavior from organization leaders or members, then those leaders’ words and commitments are not trusted.
Organization leaders and members are frustrated and disappointed because accountability is inconsistent, which erodes both performance and commitment to the organization – and disappoints internal and external customers.
The desired culture never gains traction.
Leaders are often blind to what they tolerate in their culture. They do not clearly see the negative impact of those tolerations. Tolerations create a frustrating work environment and inhibit performance and creativity. They drain energy and commitment and erode trust across the workforce. Results are inconsistent.
The good news is that leaders can choose to no longer tolerate bad behavior. It’s that simple. They don’t have to “fix” others. It’s about getting clear on what behaviors erode performance and engagement, and eliminating those behaviors.
Sometimes partnering with an executive coach can help leaders see their culture from a new perspective, and help them identify the key tolerations that are causing frustration and holding their organization back.
Recognize and Address Your Tolerations
Whether you are a leader of a multi-state federal organization or a project team lead in a local municipality – or anyone in between – eliminating tolerations requires the same approach.
Create a list of the things that bug you, that drain your energy, that compromise desired behaviors in your culture
Focus particularly on behaviors that are inconsistent with your organization’s desired valued behaviors.
Prioritize your list so the issues that have the greatest negative impact can be addressed first.
Being conscious of what you’ve tolerated in your culture helps you modify your choices and your behavior so that you no longer accept those behaviors.
Have conversations with those players whose behavior you’ve been tolerating, one at a time.
These are non-judgmental conversations – not emotional or explosive conversations. These people have been behaving in these ways for a long time because you have tolerated their behavior. They’re doing exactly what you’ve allowed them to do. Now, you have made a choice to not tolerate that behavior any more.
Secure clear agreements about future behavior, and hold those players accountable for their commitments.
Praise progress and accomplishment, and redirect players if they struggle with their new commitments. If players are unable to keep their commitments for both performance and for aligned behavior, put them on an improvement plan. Don’t let them off the hook. Help them help themselves.
As you eliminate tolerations in your culture, you will be amazed at the demonstration of increased energy, motivation, performance, and commitment by team leaders and members.
What bad behaviors are tolerated in your workplace today? How do your teams address bad behavior? Share your comments below.