Working in teams is generally considered to be an organic part of any workplace. Through teams, staff can improve communication between members and generate ideas that individuals would have taken longer to come up with. Even though working in groups is supposed to encourage consensus and reduce arguments and clashes between staff, teams can be toxic if destructive behaviors from some members are not checked.
Destructive behavior can be described as an attitude exhibited by people with certain personality types that eventually turns the team toxic and diminishes the capacity of the group to work together as a unit.
Virtually every workplace has at least a couple of people who are inclined towards some form of destructive behavior. It could be the employee who is a procrastinator who is constantly telling everyone how to do their jobs while their project is still incomplete. Or it could be an employee that is constantly turning everything into a joke, thereby irritating other members of the team.
To ensure your team is effective in executing their tasks destructive behaviors need to be addressed. This article examines different types of destructive behavior and how to deal with them when they arise in the workplace.
Types of Destructive Behavior
The following are some of the partners of behavior that could prove toxic to the team and the organization.
- Overachiever/ Self Focus: The overachiever may show patterns that suggest narcissism and extreme self-focus. As a member of the group the overachiever can diminish the capacity of the team by being overly concerned about attaining their own goals or getting credit for a piece of work done. Not only does this breed resentment, but it also creates an atmosphere that kills the team’s spirit.
- The Clown: Many people would love to work with a charming, personable, and humorous member of staff. The problem arises when it is taken too far to the extent of constantly clowning around. People with these traits may either slack around not taking things seriously when they should, or other team members may feel harassed by the constant clowning around.
- Bullying: Harassment and bullying are still not uncommon in the workplace. People with this trait have are often short-tempered. They conduct themselves in a way that is often perceived to be rude to staff and clients. Harassment in the workplace could have the biggest impact on employees and clients compared to all the other traits. According to a study on bullying and harassment, this factor can have three serious negative outcomes; it creates an imbalance between the organizational goals and employees well being, it can create a negative atmosphere of tension that hampers teamwork, the hierarchical structure of the organization can potentially encourage bullying, sexual harassment, and verbal abuse.
- Procrastinator: Procrastination is quite common and there are many people who would confess to being a procrastinator regarding a given aspect of their lives. Procrastination is often caused by a number of factors including fear of failure, anxiety, or certain psychological issues. These traits can cause unnecessary delays and misalignment of tasks thereby reducing the capacity of the organization to deliver on its goals.
- Avoidance/Denial: Tries to dodge work by avoiding responsibility and are reluctant in accepting their mistakes.
- Rebellion: This is a group member who has the tendency to resist authority. Whenever the leader of the group suggests a new plan or a new set of rules, they are often the first to resist and often encourage other members to rebel.
How Destructive Behavior Affects the Team
- Productivity: The presence of these traits suggests that the team will be in constant conflict. Avoiders will dodge responsibility limiting the team’s ability to deliver on time. Members of the group may fear to make a positive contribution due to the tense atmosphere that results from harassment, bullying or clowning.
- Communication: Communication of critical information in a timely manner is hardly possible in a team that is not cohesive. Resentment and fear may compel members of the group to share information that is vital for the organization’s goals and objectives.
- Flexibility: When the group is not working as a unit, communications and its ability to adopt are compromised. This means that the team will increasingly find it hard to make changes to adapt to new developments in the market.
What to Do About Destructive Behavior
Any organization that wants to encourage teamwork and boosts the staff’s productivity must address the issue of destructive traits in the workplace. The are several steps that could be taken to reduce the risks of introducing these traits in the workplace.
- Prevention: The hiring process should be sensitive enough to detect these traits. Unfortunately, employees with these traits are able to conceal them. This is particularly true when the hiring process considers only the results they get from interviews and references. Self-assessment tools that consider all aspects of the employee’s behavior are usually more effective in preventing toxic traits at the early stages.
- Early Intervention: While the organization should be able to detect the negative characteristics, it is also important to ensure that there is an early intervention mechanism to minimize its harmful effects. One way to do this is to have a training plan that includes educating new employees about the harmful nature of these traits. Sometimes employees are afraid to speak out about bullying and harassment in the workplace. The initial training should educate new staff on what to do, should they find themselves on the receiving end of toxic behavior and the steps they should take to report it.
- Elimination of Toxic Behavior: The initial training plan should explain clearly what would happen should the staff engage in bullying, harassment, avoidance, or procrastination. This will make it easier for the organization to take decisive steps to eliminate the toxic traits and reduce its harmful effects on other members of staff. Additionally, the organization needs to have clear ongoing communication to ensure that these destructive characteristics are addressed in a timely fashion.
Early detection and training are particularly important in eliminating the risks associated with destructive behaviors. Frustrations tend to increase within the team when it takes too long to address issues related to a staff who is accused of harassment or bullying. The organization needs to have clear communications and a clear policy on what to do when these issues arise including helping staff members get help at luxury treatment centers for some of the destructive behaviors they may have.