Every workplace should have rules and procedures that promote appropriate staff conduct. These rules, backed up by policies that spell out possible disciplinary action, should be provided in written form to employees when they are hired. Policies should be consistent and should apply to all staff, management included. Stephen P. Robbins, author of “Organizational Behavior,” explains that employees emulate the behavior of their peers and look to managers to set an example.
A professional organization demands professional behavior. Developing standards for conduct, and boundaries that staff should adhere to, gives the employer the means to ensure that interpersonal conflicts to do not spiral out of control. Transparent policies can help to maintain fairness and consistency. Favoritism in an organization can destroy trust in management and cause morale to plummet.
Why Bad Behavior is Counterproductive
Disrespect for colleagues and the company is counter to the goals of any organization. A firm can face substantial litigation if matters escalate. Inappropriate cell phone use in communal space, race or sexual discrimination, verbal or sexual abuse or harassment, are all examples of behavior that can result in conflict and disenchantment. Theft, and alcohol or drug use, are criminal activities and a zero tolerance policy is necessary in such cases. An organization hires employees to do their best to accomplish a corporate goal, and any other behavior should be considered detrimental to working groups, company business, and clients.
Consequences of Bad Behavior
The consequences of tolerating bad behavior can be that it becomes the standard throughout the staff and makes the work environment dysfunctional. Problems not circumvented quickly can be hard to manage later. Employees are ambassadors for their organizations, and how they conduct themselves affects business relations with stakeholders and harms the general reputation of the firm. Ultimately, the integrity of the business may be compromised.
Positive reinforcement and reward strategies can be effective. A staff manual that also applies to management and providing cultural and sensitivity training to all staff can stress the importance of tolerance and respectful behavior. Appointing an ethics and complaints officer who is well trained, unbiased and works confidentially is one way to provide an established protocol for grievances. New recruits should be well-screened in the interview stage to identify personality traits that might not be desirable in the organization. Raven Hill of "The New York Times," comments “It's all about hiring the right people, and instituting and enforcing policies."
Caroline Banton has more than 14 years of experience in the communications and publishing fields, working in global development and finance. Her articles have covered business, economics and recruitment, among other topics. Banton holds an M.B.A. in marketing management.