Acceptable Behavior is Behavior You Accept

Acceptable Behavior is Behavior You Accept

If you’ve ever worked with someone or had someone on your team who is “unpleasant” to work with then you know exactly what we’re talking about here. Ever work with a “screamer” or a bully? Dealing with bad behavior, at a minimum, is going to involve at least one (probably more than one) uncomfortable conversation. But confronting bad behavior is something that has to be done by leaders, managers, or anyone who is subjected to it. The alternative is to implicitly give permission for the bad behavior to continue. The result being morale, productivity, and the quality of the work environment will suffer.

I once worked with someone who screamed at and bullied subordinates daily. At the time, I lacked the skills to confront the behavior and as a result my performance and the general productivity of the group suffered. Senior management also lacked the skills or the desire to confront this bad behavior from one of their Directors. I along with several others eventually left that organization in large part due to the environment this individual was allowed to create. This individual is still employed by that organization and while he has been marginalized and his career stalled his behavior has not changed.

One reason bad behavior is difficult to change is that it is not new to the individual. Do you remember the bullies and bad kids at school when you were growing up? They didn’t just die after high school. They joined the workforce and became managers, leaders, or general employees who behave pretty much the same way they did when they were growing up. This bad behavior is something that is developed during childhood and ingrained by adulthood making it challenging to modify.

You can change someone’s bad behavior but the degree of success is greatly dependent upon your approach. The folks at the Vital Smarts Group offer a wealth of information on how to approach a variety of “uncomfortable” conversations. The group has produced several classic books including Influencer, Crucial Conversations, and Crucial Confrontations all of which are full of valuable information on how to approach challenging interpersonal situations.

You might also try some of the following approaches:

  • Develop ground rules with the team to define what is and is not acceptable behavior within the group. This makes use of peer pressure to discourage bad behavior.
  • Privately and in a non-threatening manner discuss the bad behavior and it’s effects with the individual. Sometimes people are not aware of the impacts of their behavior.
  • Don’t allow the effects of the bad behavior to become personal, stay focused on addressing the bad behavior itself.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into retaliatory bad behavior, stay focused on resolving the problem.

In closing I’d like to invite you to share the following:

Are you currently involved in a bad workplace behavior situation?

What strategy have you successfully used in the past to resolve a bad behavior situation?


©2016 Joseph T Drammissi

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