The Real Costs of Allowing Poor Behaviour in the Workplace

August 29


My husband and I decided to have a new well drilled at our cottage. One might think this is a simple process. You call someone, get a quote for the work and then have it completed…right!?!

Well, this is not my experience. Initially, I was promised a date in June, which then became July and turned into August. Finally, in mid-August, the work began.  However, it got stopped by the well-driller one hour later as they had not brought the supplies they needed to do the work the first day. Then the following Monday and Tuesday he called to say he couldn’t make it. One week later, the well is almost completed.

While I’m grateful to have water, I’ve lost trust and faith in this person’s work ethic – even though he is an expert in his field.

This experience reminded me of the organizations that keep a difficult but long-term employee who they say does good work, but yet their interpersonal behaviour is abhorrent.

Do you have an employee that fits this bill? Are you even addressing the issue or are you hoping if you ignore it, it will simply go away?

Whether the behaviour is not showing up for work, being unprepared for work or especially lacking appropriate interpersonal skills, these people need to be held to task. I’ve heard the argument that “we can’t afford to pay a severance package.”

Here are some real-world examples of the hidden costs of enabling the behaviour to continue:

  1. Other team members avoiding speaking with and dealing with the individual resulting in decreased productivity and poor workflow.
  2. Other team members will question your leadership. It is common to lose significant trust in the leader’s ability to lead.
  3. The impact on other team members’ mental health. You may end up either paying sick time or re-assigning work when other team members do wish to cope with the difficult person.
  4. This not only impacts your internal customers (co-workers) but also your external customers (clients).  It is having a negative impact on your company’s brand. You are at risk of losing valuable clients.

These are very expensive when sometimes the solution is not dismissal but being fully honest and holding space for the individual’s full potential.

The first step needs to be having an open and honest conversation with the individual outlining the impact of his/her behaviour and co-creating a plan for improvement.

This plan will be more successful when it includes coaching – whether hiring an external coach or providing a coach within the organization. This individual deserves clarity and an opportunity to make a change. Have regular meetings with the individual to both support changes and encourage growth through accountability. If there is no improvement, you may need to take further action.

However, in this process, they are given the opportunity to dig deeper into their own well of potential! And they may just surprise you! At the very least, you have primed the pump for improving your team’s dynamics!

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