The Effect of Disruptive Employees in the Workplace

“If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome”

Michael Jordan

Have you ever worked with or for a person who is disruptive? Was it is always about them and not about the team?

Workplaces are strange social environments. We are thrown together with those who we would not normally choose to spend time with. Having said that, it is our responsibility to work as hard as we can to make our relationships at work productive and perform our jobs to the best of our ability, to help ensure the organisation and the careers of those within the organisation are successful.

Disruptive employees display the following characteristics at work:
• They constantly see the negative points of issues (the glass is half empty)
• They try to get others onto ‘their side’
• They turn minor inconveniences into major ones, often in loud voices and with great drama
• They come up with complicated explanations for the most simple occurrences
• They never meet deadlines
• They bore people with their social lives often to the extent of what they had for dinner
• Are often way sick more than other employees

We as managers are often paralysed by indecision when confronted with disruptive employees who disrupt the work environment and the performance of the team or business. Why is this?

Probably because we prefer to make life easier for ourselves by not confronting the problem. Are we really making it easier for ourselves? I doubt that there is any manager in the world who can honestly say that they have not deferred confronting the problem. I have certainly been guilty of this.

Can you remember when a disruptive employee left an organisation? Everybody in the team seemed to breathe a sigh of relief and become more productive again.

I can remember working with a disruptive employee who was always sick, everything was a drama, was negative and dismissive of new ideas, disrupted fellow work mates who were too polite to tell her to ‘go away’, boring them with her love life and what she cooked for dinner each evening. When she left there was an enormous positive change in the work environment.

So what can we learn from this?

Teams look for leadership. As the manager you have the authority to act in ways that benefit the team.

I can remember an incident where a state manager was harassing and threatening staff whilst telling the managing director each afternoon what a great job he was doing. The financial results did not show this. His subordinates were demoralised and were seeking support. A window of opportunity presented itself, we had proof that company policy had been seriously violated and with the managing director out of the country we sacked the manager. The relief from his direct supports was immediate, they stopped looking for work outside the company and their morale improved overnight. Furthermore, one of the staff who was being bullied became one of the company’s best managers with the most profitable branch! True leadership improves a company’s performance.

Disruptive employees cost money, either directly or indirectly. It’s your duty as a manager to manage and not abdicate this essential activity. Your team are watching you. Either manage them and have a plan to ensure acceptable behaviour, or manage them out of the business.

You owe it to your staff and customers.

What are you going to do when a disruptive employee affects the performance of your organisation?

4 thoughts on “The Effect of Disruptive Employees in the Workplace

    • Thank you – this ‘experience’ comes from experiencing the real world of work and business and making the mistakes yourself so you can learn from them. We don’t get it right all the time – but if don’t try you don’t learn and succeed. Best to make the hard decisions and remove disruptive elements (i.e. people) so the rest of the team can flourish.

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