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Chapter 6. Identifying the Garden-Variet... > The Hidden Costs of the Garden-Varie... - Pg. 57

Identifying the Garden-Variety Difficult Employee 57 The Hidden Costs of the Garden-Variety Difficult Employee When obnoxious kinds of behaviors occur, managers tend to ignore it or hope it goes away. The behaviors don't seem that serious--but they become serious when they're ignored. Here's a way to think about it. Herb is generally a good employee but lately has become a little less reliable, a little less patient; in fact, once or twice in the last year he has been involved in rather loud shouting matches. Because Herb has been easy to work with in the past, you, the manager, excuse or ignore these behaviors, hoping to avoid what might end up in a confrontation--a mistake on your part. Herb finds his bad behavior unchallenged, and that's interpreted as a green light to continue acting in the same manner. By ignoring the behavior, you reward Herb psychologically for the bad behavior. So what's going to happen? It's probably going to get worse; the behavior will be more frequent and more severe. What are the results? Sooner or later Herb will do things that can no longer be ignored; for example, he might tell off an important customer or miss critical meetings. Then you have a major problem. Consider also that the longer Herb continues his poor behavior, the more of a habit it becomes. When people do things for a period of time, they get ingrained or habitual, and that makes them far more difficult to deal with. Long-standing poor behavior is tougher to remedy than short-term vari- eties. What are the effects of Herb's behavior on other employees? They see Herb getting away with bad behavior, and some employees will have a tendency to adopt what is tacitly accepted as OK. Herb gets to set a workplace tone, and you just might find others jumping on the bandwagon. Also, staff will expect the manager to intervene, to protect and help them. If you do not, then they blame you. They may see you as weak and incompetent. That's not a good position for any manager to be in. So, if Herb's behavior is happening now and you ignore it, it is likely you are going to get ... · · · · escalating poor behavior from Herb. more poor behavior from other staff. loss of face and credibility with other staff. more of a challenge when you do get around to facing the bad behavior. So, when we apply the reality check principle to Herb (remember, that's looking at the current results of the bad behavior), we need to focus on the future possible outcomes. We need to look to what might happen if the behavior is allowed to continue without comment. From the Manager's Desk Assess garden-variety behavior in terms of its future effects on you, your organization, and other employees before you decide to let it go without comment or action. Think long term .