It may be easier to avoid addressing poor behavior in an employee that is a good performer until tensions get so high that senior management or human resources gets involved, often at the request of frustrated co-workers. Take, for example, the employee who does not live the company values, is negative in the workplace, complains about his co-workers, throws tantrums in his cubicle, and uses unprofessional language in the office. The caustic behavior is difficult to work around, and his co-workers tend to avoid him and show signs of stress while he is in the office. The atmosphere is charged with negativity, but he is a top producer and an expert in his field. As his immediate manager, you’re running out of excuses to keep him on board, even with his excellent performance. Keeping him may no longer be worth the strain he is causing in the workplace.
To what extent do his positives justify his inappropriate behavior in the workplace? Employees are probably wondering why management would permit this behavior to continue. There can be several factors, including avoidance and fear of confrontation, worry over the “what if’s” if he quits, and hopes that it will get better all on its own.
It very seldom gets better without targeted coaching and feedback, and addressing bad behavior in the workplace sooner rather than later will likely have greater results on the individual’s overall performance and that of others around him. Employees that witness such behavior without correction or consequences may lose faith and trust in the management team and company. The best solutions incorporate the following:
- Face the employee and address the observations and concerns, and then outline expectations for moving forward along with disciplinary procedures if expectations or goals are not met.
- After initial focused coaching discussions, if behavior reoccurs, continue the process of addressing the observations, concerns, and expectations in accordance with your progressive discipline process.
- Use all tools available, including anger management training, emotional intelligence resources or training, or a mentorship program that provides the individual an outlet to address his frustrations and refocus in a private, safe environment.
Behavior of this nature can be cancer-like in the workplace. When leaders fail to hold management and employees responsible for addressing such issues, the impact is rarely apparent until the final decision to remove the employee occurs. At that point, the damage to the workplace and co-worker relationships is apparent. Addressing poor behavior in the workplace head on can create a lighter atmosphere and more productive workplace that resonates like ripples in a pond across your culture. Take on the storm. Your company culture is worth it.