When Disruption in the Workplace Turns to Dysfunction

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Let me start out by saying disruption is good, but when it creates havoc and is the cause of missed deliverables, low morale in the workplace and the breakdown of trust among your employees; simply put, it is cancerous, and it must be eliminated quickly.

How healthy is your company?

Here is a culture “health” checklist to see if the disruption in your organization is actually dysfunction in disguise.

1)    Disrespect. Do disagreements in your office often result in yelling, or crossing personal space boundaries? Is the lack of respect toward others a growing trend?

2)    Mistrust. Do people say one thing and purposely do another, creating contention and mistrust?

3)    Undermine. Do you have people who outright undercut one another’s efforts with hopes of “saving the day” or taking away from the success of team members just to prove a point?

4)    Defensiveness. Is there unwarranted defensiveness or unwillingness to prove why something should (or should not) be done for the greater good of the company?

5)    Negativity. Is there a recurring cycle of “drama” that seems to involve the same people? These my friend are “pot stirrers” or people who just enjoy the negative energy.

6)    Unproductivity. Do you have those who commit but rarely deliver? Or they tend to let others do the heavy lifting? An imbalanced workload is a sure way to create contention among team members.

7)    Deflecting. Do you have a very active “blame game” going on? So much that you have lost track of the score. Blaming others is deflecting at its best. The bottom line is this; someone is just not willing to take responsibility for his or her mistakes.

8)    Unaccountability. Do you have a few that play the “I didn’t know” card? This may be the case on occasion but when it becomes a regular occurrence you have to ask yourself if they are more comfortable with asking forgiveness than permission. Unaccountability is also evidence of avoidance and self-absorption.

9)    Passive-Aggressiveness. Do you have employees who refuse to face issues head on? Do they pass “Joe” in the hall with a smile but go back to their desk and send an email stating how they do not appreciate such and such? Or maybe they tell others but refuse to speak to Joe directly about their concerns.

10)    Betrayal. And last but not least, gossiping and backstabbing are a common problem that is damaging on many levels. It deters from company goals and breaks down morale quickly. Breaking this level of trust with a co-worker is also one of the hardest things to work through on a personal level.

Identifying the issue is the first step; now let us review how you can address them head on to create a healthy, productive work environment for your employees and customers.

Culture is everything.

Creating a culture where mutual respect, trust, and productivity are the staples of your environment all begin with your leadership team. It is easy to share this value system, but living by them has proven to be a bit more challenging. So for these staples to become the foundation of your culture, you must incorporate them from the top down. Meaning your executive team must consistently lead by example.

Leaders who lead by example— build trust, respect, and productivity.

-Insight respectful problem resolution by listening to others’ ideas, hearing their concern, or collaborating to find the best solution that is in the best interest of the company, clients, and those who are affected.

-Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you say one thing behind closed doors, then be sure to stand behind it, regardless of the audience. Honesty builds trust and integrity among your peers, internal teams, and those who report directly to you.

-Be a team player, meaning celebrate others success. Focus on the greater good by recognizing the value that others bring to your organization. Applauding others will only add to the sense of team. There is no greater way to increase buy-in than by feeling that you are part of the bigger picture.

-Always be prepared to back up your statement or ideas with statistics or reasons to believe. Factual benefits will help to remove defensiveness and enable you to confirm your decision, which is always a good thing especially when creating buy-in.

-Every day we face various challenges, but the important thing to remember is it is not WHAT we deal with but HOW we deal with obstacles that measure our level of success. Having a plan of action also minimizes any negativity we may initially feel because we will stay focused on next steps rather than whom we can blame.

-If you take on a task or project, own it. Be sure to identify the scope of the project and the resources it will take to meet the deliverable. If you assign projects to others on your team be sure to follow-up regularly, be sure there are no roadblocks. And most importantly do not bite off more than you and your team can chew. Planning and making good use of your teams time will help your team see your level of engagement in their day-to-day activities, as well as build trust and respect for your leadership.

-Showing appreciation or acknowledging a job well done goes a long way. This is something you do not need to budget for; it can be as simple as sending an email to your team or sharing in a team meeting how a specific member made a difference.

-Last but not least, keep a clear and open communication line with your team. Speak to them directly about any issues that involve their level of work and their ability to perform their role. Sharing opportunities for growth should always be done behind closed doors so as not to embarrass them in front of their peers. Never talk about them negatively or share with others the concerns you have with them. Your feedback will get back to them, and it breaks down the morale and productivity of your department very quickly. Sharing negative feedback indirectly is unprofessional, and it breaks down the trust between you and your employee. When trust is broken, it can be tough to rebuild, if it is possible at all.


Create a self-evaluation that include the items above and ask your leadership team to:

1)  Provide an example of how they demonstrate each

2) Request an example of how their peers exhibit them

3) Have them come up with a campaign on how they can encourage their teams to incorporate them in their day-to-day interactions

The purpose of this exercise is to get them thinking about how they can make a difference and to remind them that they must lead by example. A positive culture creates a win, win opportunity for growth within your entire organization.

The Golden Rule

Here is a simple rule of thumb, treat others how you like to be treated or as it’s stated in the Golden Rule “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.” This probably isn’t the first time you or your team have heard this so maybe it can just act as a reminder. Treating our peers, team members, and clients the way we want to be treated ensures we are actively building a culture based on trust, respect, and productivity.

Simplify HR management today.

Simplify HR management today.

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