4/14/14 6:01 AM Guest

Discover the root causes of negative employee behaviors with these internal communication tips.

YOU'RE FIRED. It's pretty easy to say. Just ask Donald Trump; he's made millions by telling people they're fired on his hit TV shows, The Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice.


But in the real world, firing an employee is a bit more complex and not nearly as much fun. This is especially true in cases where firing an employee could have been avoided by confronting problematic behavior early on.


Managers need to recognize the causes of negative behavior in the workplace. By taking specific actions early using effective internal communication and by understanding that difficult employees are not always bad employees, managers can provide helpful input to begin correcting problematic behaviors.


This initiative can ultimately help save the cost of finding and training new people, which is usually estimated between 10 to 30% of an employee's annual pay.


Because there are more than 11 million people in the United States out of work, I believe it's safe to say that most employees will make a serious attempt to correct negative behaviors, as finding a new job could be a particularly difficult task.


One challenge in understanding employee behavior is exploring the root causes. There are underlying elements that need to be understood to manage the way employees behave in the workplace. According to the Robbins Management Coulter, three key areas to expand knowledge are as follows:


Individual Behavior

Individual behavior refers to an employee's attitudes, personalities, values, emotions, learning methods, and moods. In order to understand these components, managers must explore what motivates their employees. Employee motivation is important to understand because it directly affects on an organization's performance.


One way managers can find out how to motivate their employees is by simply asking them. This can help clarify what energizes and initiates their behaviors. Managers must use this information as a roadmap to find the best ways to help employees reach their full potential.


When individual behavior becomes problematic among certain employees, it's important to take time figuring out why these behaviors are occurring. For example, the “Constantly Late Co-worker” is the employee who is never on time and always rushes in 20 to 30 minutes late. This type of behavior can irritate other employees and negatively affect employee productivity.


But before jumping the gun and giving this employee the boot, managers should privately ask this employee why they are always late. Perhaps this employee has a chronically ill spouse, they are caring for an elderly parent, or maybe they have a young child who needs a parent to watch them get on the bus. These can all be valid reasons, and managers should understand that accommodations should be considered.


When managers make employees feel understood, this gives employees a strong sense of belonging to the organization, which in turn will boost morale, minimize negative behaviors, and produce a more cohesive workforce.


Group Behavior

In many work situations, groups are necessary in order to complete a task efficiently and effectively. A harmonious group can be a key source of motivation and job satisfaction.


Therefore, in order for managers to become more effective leaders, they must have a deep understanding of group behavior. This involves exploring roles, team building, conflicts, and leadership.


Individuals play many different roles within a group. It is important for managers to make goals clear, and continuously adjust individual roles to best utilize talent. Managers can use their understanding of individual behaviors to assign job roles and determine which employees will collaborate well with each other.


Team roles should always directly correlate with each individual's abilities and limitations. Allocation among roles should also be balanced to avoid role stress, overload, and conflict.


Conflict and hostility can arise in group activities, so understanding what negatively impacts group behavior can help a manager resolve conflicts and properly construct new roles within the group.


Conflict resolution is very important for managers to handle properly. After all, studies suggest that managers devote 30-40% of their daily activities trying to resolve some type of interpersonal conflict.


For example, the person who is always pestering and micromanaging other colleagues can be called “The Nagging Gnat.” This behavior can create hostility in the workplace and lower group productivity.


A manager must examine why this employee has so much free time to pester others. Perhaps this employee is not challenged enough with the work they are given, so they're occupying their time by giving others advice. When work is not challenging enough for employees, they have extra time to do things that are not exactly welcomed, even if these suggestions are coming from a good place.


Managers must constantly perform a balancing act to align employees with roles that fit their abilities. When individual and group roles are aligned, employees tend to feel a greater sense of job satisfaction.


Organizational Aspects

The organizational aspects affecting employee behavior include the company structure, policies, culture, and management practices.


Sometimes expectations can be unclear due to certain management styles. Managers must always be clear about their employee expectations. This means managers should avoid being “politely unclear" so expectations are distinctively clarified.


In order to help a problematic employee get back on track, managers must act as coaches. As coaches, they should discuss more suitable workplace behaviors. Employees need to be given time to practice these suggested behaviors, so a certain level of patience is necessary.


In order to follow through with coaching an employee, managers should also provide specific feedback on the progress of the employee's efforts. In such cases, micromanaging may be necessary. This gives employees insight into which actions need to be minimized and recognize which actions should be implemented.


When employees understand what they are doing wrong, they can be given the option of correcting the issue. Once employees acknowledge they have not been meeting expectations, share your solutions.


Also, ask how they feel they can resolve the problem. This resolution can now become a contract to which that employee will be held accountable. Conclude the agreement by asking if they agree and if they are willing to make a serious effort to correct the problem.


In some cases termination may be necessary, especially when an employee becomes unresponsive and refuses to improve a negative behavior. This often involves documenting the behavior(s) and providing verbal and written warnings/feedback. When protocol has been strictly followed, and the employee does not address the issue, it's simply time to hit them with the punchline: “YOU'RE FIRED.”



Today's blog post written by Melissa Caraballo


Avoid These 10 Mistakes in Your Internal Communications Strategy Free Download