Work Behavior

  • Choose one Counterproductive Work Behavior (CWB) from the abuse against others category and one CWB from the production deviance category. Examine at least two possible causes of each CWB. Next, provide at least one example of the potential impact of each chosen CWB on an organization.
  • Using the two causes of each CWB you selected, suggest the course of action an employer could take to change the employees’ behaviors and to address the possible diagnosed contributors to those CWBs. Justify your response.

see slide notes below:

Topic

Narration

 

1

Introduction

Welcome to Performance Management. In this lesson, we will be discussing   diagnosing, understanding, and dealing with counterproductive work   behavior.

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2

Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, you will   be able to:

Analyze how organizations use   performance management as a learning tool to ensure that the desired   behaviors are rewarded.

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3

Topics

Specifically, we will discuss the   following topics:

Diagnosing counterproductive work   behaviors; and,

Dealing with counterproductive work   behaviors

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4

Counterproductive   Work Behaviors Defined

Counterproductive work behaviors fall   into the category of “I know it when I see it.” While you may actually   know-it-when-you-see-it, let’s start the lecture with a definition of   counterproductive work behaviors.

These are “Volitional acts that harm or   intend to harm organizations and their stakeholders. For example, clients,   co-workers, customers, and supervisors.” We will refer to counterproductive work behaviors as CWB during the   rest of the lecture.

Evidence points to a prevalent problem   of CWB. It is estimated that up to 75   percent of employees have engaged in theft, computer fraud, embezzlement,   vandalism, sabotage, or fraudulent absenteeism; the cost of which these CWBs   may reach the hundreds of billions of dollars annually.

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5

Types of CWBs

There are two main types of CWBs, abuse   against others and production deviance.

Let’s define each and then discuss each   in detail.

Abuse against others are behaviors “that   cause or are intended to cause physical or psychological harm to other   organization constituents.” These   appear to be emotional-based and related to hostile aggression. These behaviors include incivility,   aggression or violence, and sexual harassment.

Production Deviance is “acts of   displaced aggression typically targeted at organizations rather than   individuals.” They include sabotage,   theft and withdrawal.

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6

Abuse Against   Others

There are three types of abuse among   others. Let’s first discuss the mild   form of abuse, which is incivility, and then the more severe behaviors such   as workplace violence and sexual harassment.

Incivility is classified as   low-intensity deviant behaviors, which may include taking credit where credit   is not due, spreading rumors, or simply not picking up after oneself in the   company cafeteria. While these may appear   harmless or trivial, over time, these incivilities can have short-term and   long-term consequences to the individuals involved or targeted and the   organization.

Another abuse against others is   workplace aggression or violence. Research points to the root cause of workplace aggression to often be   unaddressed incivility. While we may   not hear of violence in the workplace in our daily news very often, the   National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimated that up to   eighteen thousand people a week are attacked by someone while they are at   work.

The last form of abuse against others we   will discuss comes in two forms. Sexual harassment is classified as either quid pro quo, which is when   unwelcomed and unsolicited sexual advances are tied to a form of workplace   punishment or implied for advancement, while the second is a hostile   workplace, which are unwelcome behaviors that causes emotional distress to   the individual to which the unwelcomed behaviors are targeted. Both forms of sexual harassment are illegal   based on Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

No matter what the abuse may be, any of   these actions makes for an unwelcoming and often unproductive workplace.

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7

Production   Deviance

We will talk   about two forms of production deviance.

First, employee   sabotage entails damaging or destroying an organization’s property. This form of deviance costs employers   approximately two-hundred-billion-dollars per year.

Second, theft   can be minor, like claiming office supplies for your home office, or severe,   as in embezzlement. Theft in the   workplace is prevalent. A study   published in the year 2000 revealed that up to 75 percent of employees   admitted to taking an employer’s property home on at least one occasion. The cost to organizations of theft is   estimated to be between sixty-billion-dollars to one-hundred-twenty-billion-dollars   a year.

Lastly,   withdrawal behaviors such as taking a sick day when not needed, arriving late   to work or leaving work early, stem from avoidance or escapism reasons.

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8

Diagnosing CWB   Causes

Only when the   root cause of the counterproductive work behavior is revealed can a manager   properly address the issue. A common   error for managers to make is referred to the fundamental attribution   error. It’s a form of bias in which a   person’s behavior is thought to be due to internal, dispositional factors and   to underestimate the role of the situational factors.

Misdiagnosing at   this stage can result in time wasted fixing the wrong problem, which could   also cause the problem to escalate.

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9

Check Your   Understanding

 

10

Causes of CWB

There are a few   common categories of CWB causes. Let’s   discuss those next.

Individual   contributors can lead to CWBs. These   include substance abuse, divorce, sick family members, financial   difficulties, or even personality traits such as anger, to name just a few. These types of problems are to be handled   delicately in the workplace, as laws are in place to protect workers   privacy. Due to laws and the cost of   these problems, many employers have Employee Assistance Programs in place as   a neutral way of intervening when employees are facing individual issues.

Poorly   functioning interpersonal relationships can also be a cause for CWBs. Whether relationships are strained with a   supervisor or with peers, the result may lead to more severe abuses, such as   sabotage, theft, or even workplace aggression or violence.

Another cause of   counterproductive work behaviors is a feeling of injustice in the workplace,   which can take the form of not getting a promotion, feeling singled out, or   not receiving credit when it is due. Acting out, whether towards individuals or the organization, are   typically focused on restoring what employees believe they lost or deserve as   a result of the perceived inequity.

Job   dissatisfaction, situational constraints, and organizational climate can also   lead to CWB, such as sabotage, theft, tardiness, and production   deviance. Setting the right tone in   the organization and providing the right tools for the employees to do their   work are ways to counter these types of causes.

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11

Dealing with CWB

Now that we   diagnosed or identified some of the common causes of CWB, let’s get to how to   address or deal with the behavior.

We will first   discuss the non-punitive approaches.

One non-punitive   approach is having the manager first make sense of the problems, which is also   referred to as alignment. It is a way   of handling the problem in a non-confrontational manner by giving feedback,   coaching the individual, giving resources that are appropriate and holding   group sessions instead of singling out one person when appropriate.

Another   non-punitive approach is to give feedback, either corrective or   constructive. These may work   effectively for non-severe CWB.

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12

Self-Management

Another means to   address CWB is through self-management. This is a set of behavioral and cognitive strategies that help people   structure their environment, including the environment at work, and involves   self motivation and understanding of the behaviors needed to meet performance   standards or goals. The key behind   this method is thought to be self-efficacy, or one’s belief in his or her   capability to attain certain goals.

Self-efficacy   works by influencing an individual’s choices about what behaviors to   undertake, how much effort should be exerted, and how long to persist when   obstacles are confronted. Someone with   a high self-efficacy would persist longer at dealing with the problem than   someone with a lower self-efficacy.

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13

Punishment

Punishment is   sometimes necessary in dealing with some causes of CWB. Matter of fact, the law will penalize   organizations that fail to take action when called for.

When sizing up   the punishment appropriate for the CWB, research indicates that managers   often rely heavily on their organization’s consistency norms in making   punishment decisions, whereas line managers place less emphasis on the past   treatment of employees. This   inconsistency needs to be addressed in the workplace in order to prevent a   lawsuit that could surface from an employee who felt punished inconsistently   from others having exhibited the same CWB.

Research reveals   that on average, recipients do view discipline as effective in changing   behavior and increasing awareness of expectations; however, different   research reveals there can be negative consequences from the punishment. These include anger or embarrassment, a   loss of respect for the manager or the organization, and dissatisfaction of   the job.

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14

Progressive   Discipline

Occasionally one   disciplinary action does not deal entirely with the CWB. In some cases, progressive discipline may   be called for. In these cases,   managers formally, directly, and promptly communicate problems, including   performance deficiencies, to employees. The sanction may be verbal warnings   or written warnings, suspension, or termination.

Figuring out an   appropriate sanction for the severity of the CWB can be aided with the help   of these following criteria.

One,   the extent to which the incident created disruption to the workflow;
Two, damage to products or equipment;
Three, whether a safety hazard was created;
Four, whether a customer or employee suffered bodily harm;
Five, conduct in light of training or professional norms;
Six, whether the behavior was a legal violation;

Seven,   if the behavior resulted in misappropriation of resources;

Eight,   the impact on morale of co-workers;

Nine,   whether the behavior is a danger signal for more serious problems;

Ten,   if the employee’s actions damaged the image of the organization; and,

Eleven,   if the problem undermined management’s authority.

In addition to   the severity of the punishment, managers should consider the ease with which   the behavior can be corrected, how similar issues were dealt with in the   past, and the employee’s past performance and tenure when determining an   appropriate punishment.

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15

Discipline   Recommendations

Research results   indicate that a thorough investigation, planning, and preparation are   essential to making disciplinary efforts effective. Additionally, here are other   recommendations for making sanction decisions and holding a disciplinary   meeting. They are:

One, determine   whether there are legal issues that should be taken into account;
Two, consider only work-related factors. For example, do not mix a known pending divorce of the performer into   the situation;
Three, apply policies and decision-making rules consistently;
Four, allow employees a voice in the discipline process;
Five, make the punishment consistent with the severity of the offense;
Six, provide managers with discipline-related training;
Seven, provide employees with clear explanations coupled with apologies for   the ill effect on the recipient;
Eight, communicate clear performance expectations;
Nine, communicate specific consequences for future infractions;
Ten, provide employees with sufficient time to improve their performance or   change their behavior; and,
Eleven, express confidence in the employee’s ability to improve.

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16

Termination

Occasionally a   termination is called for after a manager’s attempts to deal with the counterproductive   work behavior fails to produce the desired results. The failure to promptly terminate poor   performers or problem performers has been cited as one of the most costly   legal mistakes that employers make.

While the   decision to terminate a performer should be made swiftly, it should not be   done hastily. There are two issues to   consider when in the position to terminate an employee. First, what are the legal parameters that   may place restrictions on employee termination? Reviewing the appropriate at-will   employment, contractual employment, and collective bargaining doctrine is   important in order to prevent a future lawsuit from the terminated employee.   Second, how should the termination be communicated to the employee? Avoiding   blame and the perception of injustice may also prevent a future lawsuit from   being filed by the terminated employee.

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17

Check Your   Understanding

 

18

Summary

We have now reached the end of this   lesson. Let’s take a look at what we   covered.

We started the lecture by defining   counterproductive work behaviors, also known as CWB. “Volitional acts that harm or intend to   harm organizations and their stakeholders. For example, clients, co-workers,   customers, and supervisors.”

We discussed two categories of CWB and   five subcategories. The first, abuse   against others, includes incivility, workplace aggression and violence, and   sexual harassment. The second,   production deviance, involves sabotage, theft, and withdrawal.

We then moved to discussing the   importance of properly diagnosing CBW. A misdiagnosis results in wasted time and can cause the CWB to escalate. There are several categories of CWB   causes. They include:

One, individual contributors;

Two, poorly functioning interpersonal   relationships at work;

Three, feeling of injustice;

Four, job dissatisfaction;

Five, situational constraints; and

Six, organizational culture.

We then moved to dealing with CWB. We examined non-punitive approaches, such   as alignment and feedback, and self management. When assessing the situation to apply the   appropriate punishment, managers should consider the criteria posed, as well   as the discipline recommendations posed in the lecture.

We concluded the lecture discussing the   reality that termination may be warranted. The two areas to review before the termination occurs are the legal   parameters involving the employee and the manner in which the termination is   communicated to the employee. Both of   these areas warrant thorough diligence in order to prevent a future lawsuit   from the terminated employee.

This completes this lesson.

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