What Does Bad Behavior Cost You?

I’m a big proponent of tough love at work and home. I practice it with my clients, too. After all, they pay me to tell them what they need to know, not just what they want to know. Sometimes the truth hurts.

A recent article in Inc. Magazine on The Lost Art of Tough Love included some interesting stats about the impact of behavior that that crosses the line from tough love to trouble.

Bad behavior is decidedly not tough love.

Angry TeenIt’s behavior that reflects poorly on the one dishing it out and makes life unhappy for people around them.  Insolence, tongue lashings and blatant disregard for others all fall into a general category we know as rudeness. Those who practice it? Jerks.

Being a jerk isn’t usually fatal, but it doesn’t do much to motivate people, either. When leaders allow its presence in the workplace, the problem is exacerbated by lack of intervention.

Obnoxious people who “get away with it”  seem to feel empowered, and the abuse continues.

Silence isn’t Golden

Many of us silently observe bad behavior, shaking our heads instead of calling it out. While that can help with self preservation (who enjoys confrontation, after all?), it’s not such a great idea from a leadership perspective.

There’s a real, quantifiable cost to letting people act up at work. The data cited by Inc. shows….

  • People exposed to uncivil behavior were 33% less creative, according to a study by the University of Florida and the University of Southern California.
  • The same study showed they were also 4 times less helpful than others not exposed
  • 80% of people surveyed by Georgetown University “lost work time worrying about a rude incident at the office.

If your business depends on being innovative, teams working together, helping customers and being productive, imagine the dollar cost of allowing jerks to be jerks.

Can you afford for your employees to be 4x less helpful when customers and coworkers need them? Do you want 80% of your staff stewing over conflicts at work?

Even non-jerks have their moments. Atlanta traffic and endless phone trees get the best of me sometimes. I’m sure there are some things that set you off occasionally, too. Even these sporadic blow-ups can be costly for morale, bringing productivity to a screeching halt.

What are you going to do about it?

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