Study: Bad Job Fit, Hazy Goals Top List of Employee Misbehaviors that Drain Companies’ Energy

“Misbehaviors” in the workplace not only deplete an organization’s energy, but they’re also a warning employees’ needs aren’t being met.

Ontario, Canada — March 5
“Misbehaviors” in the workplace not only deplete an organization’s energy, but they’re also a warning employees’ needs aren’t being met.

That’s the premise behind the five key drivers of misbehaviors released by Juice Inc., a human resources consulting firm that helps companies boost their organizational energy and employee engagement.

“When the core emotional needs of individuals aren’t being met, employees can’t offer their best stuff,” said Brady Wilson, one of Juice’s founding partners and author of “JUICE: Release Your Company’s Intelligent Energy Through Powerful Conversations.” “Employee and organizational energy are depleted, engagement levels decrease, commitment levels fall and results are disappointing.”

In response, Wilson said both employees and managers need to better define and agree on expectations, employ candid conversations and focus on solutions rather than emotions.

The five leading drivers of employee misbehaviors are:

1. Bad Fits. When employees aren’t doing the things they’re good at, it creates inner friction and a feeling of incompetence. Lack of focus, procrastination, poor performance and mistakes follow. Feeling excluded within a team environment will also create insecurity, feelings of rejection and isolation, sparking team conflicts and poor communication.

2. Unclear About Their Role. When employees aren’t clear on what’s expected of them, and they’re unsure about how they serve the big picture, it can create feelings of confusion, insecurity and mistrust. They begin to question whether they are succeeding or failing in their role. As a result, they become critical of management initiatives and demonstrate poor commitment.

3. Lack of Support. This includes physical tools and emotional support. When people don’t have the time, tools, resources or lead time they need to succeed, it can leave them feeling overwhelmed, taken for granted and resentful. They respond by bad-mouthing the organization, complaining, and showing an overall poor attitude.

“When you feel undefended in your role, or you’ve been handed responsibility without authority, it leads to feelings of disempowerment,” Wilson said.

4. Not Being Valued. Gratitude is an underused business tool, Wilson said. Employees simply look for a “thank you” to feel appreciated for their work, but they don’t always get it. If they begin to feel like they’re treated like corporate chattel or a tool and not as a person, they can begin to feel taken for granted. Unequal treatment, not feeling listened to or a lack of meaningful recognition can all support such feelings. The resulting misbehaviors include lack of trust and loyalty, low engagement, infighting, miscommunication and a toxic culture.

5. Lack of Inspiration. Individuals can’t sustain their energy when they feel their leaders are hypocrites and their job has no real purpose beyond making money for someone else. When people don’t feel as if they are living up to their potential and being held accountable to results, apathy and cynicism set in.

The resulting misbehavior: a jaded workforce. Passion dies, and the ability to reach goals (and results) deteriorate. People squander time and money by acting without purpose.

Wilson urges employees who aren’t getting the desired growth opportunities and challenges to clearly express such needs to managers.

“If you don’t feel recognized or appreciated for your contribution, say so,” Wilson said. “Sometimes, leaders recognize you in a way that’s comfortable for them but not necessarily what you expect or appreciate.”

Employees also need to be candid, clarifying expectations and misunderstandings through conversations with colleagues, managers or supervisors.

If you don’t feel “safe” enough within your environment to have a candid conversation with people who can help, then talk to a trusted colleague, someone within HR or an employee-assistance program (EAP).

Last, it’s critical for people to keep conversations productive by focusing on solutions rather than the emotions.

Wilson offers the following tips:

  • Describe the goal of your conversation. Keep the goal specific, measurable, actionable and realistic.
  • Describe the reality of your situation. Do you need more support in your role? How? If you don’t feel clear about expectations, how does that affect your role?
  • Discuss ideas about how to reach your goal and define next steps. Then set up a follow-up conversation to ensure accountability.