March 1, 2021, by HR Search & Rescue Disruptive behavior in the workplace is behavior that prohibits others in the workplace from functioning normally. It can take many different forms, and every situation is unique. It is important to identify disruptive behavior as soon as possible to prevent it from worsening or becoming a more serious concern. This review discusses the common characteristics disruptive employees display and how to handle the situation. Common Characteristics Of A Disruptive Employee Anyone in the workplace can engage in disruptive behavior, including employees, managers, supervisors and executives. Disruptive behavior is often intentional, but it can take place without the disruptor being aware of their actions as well. Most notably, a disruptive employee may display one or more of the characteristics discussed below. Interruptive Or Inappropriate Comments Disruptive behavior often takes place in the form of verbal abuse. When employees lack professionalism in the workplace, they are more likely to engage in disruptive dialogue with coworkers, managers and supervisors. This can often be resolved through a one-on-one meeting, although consistent verbal abuse may require the assistance of an HR professional. Frequent Conflict Among Coworkers Employees are expected to work well with their team members in a productive and professional way. When one of the team members is unable to work with coworkers (or at the very least work alongside other coworkers), then it constitutes disruptive behavior, making it more challenging for everyone in the workplace to remain productive. Bullying, Gossip And Exclusion Bullying is often obvious when it exists, but it can be more subtle as well. Looking for warning signs such as constantly criticizing other coworkers is important. Gossip can also be highly detrimental to workflow and business operations. Purposely excluding team members from being a part of work activities can also be incredibly disruptive to the normal function within the office. Other Disruptive Behaviors Anytime the normal function of the office is disrupted due to an employee’s actions, it could be considered disruptive behavior. Other disruptive behaviors in the workplace include but are not limited to challenging or resisting authority, destruction of property, blaming others for problems, gaslighting, constant complaining and violence. How To Handle Disruptive Behavior In The Workplace Every situation should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Minor cases of disruptive behavior can often be resolved by discussing the behavior with the individual and providing them with a warning. In more serious cases or in cases that cannot be resolved through a face-to-face meeting, additional training and guidance courses may be required, along with other possible actions. Offer Training And Guidance Courses Additional training and guidance courses may be necessary if talking with the disruptive employee does not resolve the issue or if there are multiple employees engaging in disruptive behavior. A company executive may be able to conduct the training or guidance courses. However, for best results, it is encouraged to have a professional lead the courses, such as an HR consultant. If you do not have an in-house HR department, then you can work with an independent HR consultant until the disruptive behavior is resolved. Listen, Take Notes And Provide Feedback Every office should have a plan for resolving internal conflicts. This may require a meeting with any disruptive employees and simply listening to them. When doing so, be sure to take detailed notice to find out precisely how they are feeling and why they may be engaging in disruptive behavior. You can then provide feedback to help them be less disruptive in the workplace. Often, simply letting an employee know that you care enough to listen to what they have to say is enough to calm any tension and conflict. Document The Disruptive Employee’s Progress The hope is for the disruptive employee to progress and become more professional and productive in the work environment. If the disruptive behavior becomes severe or continues for an extended amount of time, however, then you will need to take further action, such as suspending the employee or letting them go. To determine if progress is being made, be sure to document the employee’s progress (or lack thereof). Take Threats And Violence Very Seriously Violence or the threat of violence should never be tolerated in the workplace. If this occurs, then the best option is likely to notify the police. Violent behavior or threats is not something you as the employer should try and resolve in the place of work. Speak With An Independent HR Consultant Today If an employee or someone else within your place of work is engaging in disruptive behavior that affects you as well as others within your place of work, then notify our professional and experienced HR team today. our professional and experienced HR team today. Here at HR Search and Rescue, we take pride in helping our clients resolve workplace behavioral issues.