Staff behaviour in the corporate sense can be defined as ‘conduct by employees’, ie what employees do. This conduct leads to a company developing a unique atmosphere, which results in a specific modus operandi. The effect of employee conduct on the success of the business cannot be overstated. It is, after all, the employees who are the engine of any company, driving the business in a particular direction.
Statistically, 99% of all failures in business are the result of employees who are proficient in making excuses. Unfortunately it’s not enough to merely be concerned with whether or not a staff member’s work has been completed; their work may be completed, but has it been completed well and what relational consequences have occurred as a result of the completion process?
What is important is how the work is getting done and how the staff behave when interacting with fellow employees, customers and management. The crew members of the Air France Flight 447, which crashed into the ocean two hours after take-off from the Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro, may have confirmed that their checks were completed, but the plane still went down as a result of several small oversights and mistakes.
The affect that behaviour has on the bottom line is not limited to the business’ subsequent relationship with customers, but extends to the rest of the workforce. The actions of just one staff member can either hamper or encourage the productivity of the rest of the workforce and may impact severely on overall morale.
While most employees are vastly unaware of the company’s strategies and goals, successful companies are often those that effectively link business behaviour to employee behaviour.
This allows employees to move away from their own interests as their primary motivation in the office, while allowing them to feel engaged and giving them a visible goal to work towards, both personally and professionally. In this manner, a purpose driven culture is fostered, minimising conflict and allowing people to work together constructively.
Although the ‘rainbow nation’ is often used as a scapegoat for a lack of productivity and behavioural problems in South Africa, cultural diversity is, in truth, not the cause of these problems. Although not as diverse as South Africa, the United Arab Emirates also has a vastly diverse workforce, yet far less issues than are experienced in South Africa.
The key is that, internationally, employees are provided with clearer goals and objectives and therefore cannot hide behind a diversity issue when these goals are not achieved.
Company culture first
Although some universally destructive behaviour can be identified, ultimately every company’s culture is different. As a result certain behaviour may be deemed destructive at a particular company, while being celebrated as positive at another.
Several factors play a role in categorising behaviour as destructive or non-destructive, and these factors mainly depend on the company itself, the industry within which it operates and the management policies in place. Generally, any behaviour which does not support a company’s culture and drive the company towards the achievement of its goals is destructive and vice versa; behaviour which supports company culture and builds upon the company’s Customer Value Proposition will benefit the company’s bottom line.
Although it is easiest to prevent behavioural problems through effective management and goal setting than to correct bad behaviour once embarked upon, this is not always possible. If poor behaviour has been identified or is suspected, ensure not to ignore this.
Certain ‘warning signs’ of poor staff behaviour can be identified as; increased conflict, micro-management, a decrease in goal achievement, an increase in absenteeism, negative attitudes, a lack of punctuality, staff leaving early, a lack of motivation and an increase in staff turnover.
Due to the fact that motivation comes from within, the most effective course of action in correcting behavioural problems is to involve employees in identifying the negative behaviour and create structured processes that drive employees and the business towards set goals.
Building ideal behaviours from the ground up, starting with values and ending with behaviours that employees believe will lead to the success of the company has proven to be a very successful behavioural modification tool.
Staff behaviour has visible effects which can be seen by management, employees and customers. It is important for companies to entrench sought-after staff behaviour in their human resources policies, feedback and measuring structures to ensure that staff are aware of what is expected of them. Rewarding staff for engaging in the correct behaviour, financially and non-financially, is also important.
When behavioural problems are battering a company’s bottom line, it may be difficult to see a solution to the issues that these problems may cause in the workforce. Reactive management styles will merely intensify the problems, resulting in rebellious behaviour.
To prevent behavioural problems, develop all-encompassing on-boarding programmes, communicate with staff about what is expected of them in a captivating manner and provide them with measurable goals.