High Job Competence with disruptive behavior. Our research indicates that 20–25% of employees exhibit these characteristics. Perceptions about what constitutes disruptive behavior are highly variable. It’s not that the employee is simply quirky or odd, but that their behaviors impact co-workers in a destructive manner (thereby making it difficult for others to do their work). This can manifest itself in others being reluctant to ask questions, seek clarification and spend mental energy on “how not to deal with” the ‘bad behavior’ employee. These behaviors can be overt (including verbal outbursts, refusal to carry out certain tasks or work with particular individuals) but even more commonly we find that they are passive aggressive (condescending language, refusal or reluctance to cooperate with others, disparaging remarks about the organization, co-workers, boss or customers; negative tone and approach and quietly exhibiting other types of uncivil behaviors).
Impact: Your ‘A’ players have very little patience for dealing with these co-workers, which puts you at risk of losing your best employees. Alternatively, another risk is that your good employees may begin taking on some of the negative characteristics of the disruptive employee. We call this “going over to the “dark side.” Oftentimes we enable these bad actors in our organization by creating workarounds instead of confronting their offending behavior. Bad behavior is harmful even when it’s coming from otherwise and talented star employees.