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Managing Distracting Employee Behaviors

Managing Distracting Employee Behaviors
Managing Distracting Employee Behaviors

By Suzanne Hoffman Ph.D.

Senior Consultant, Baron Center, Inc.

Article #1 of the series: The 4 D’s of Workplace Behaviors

What are Distracting Behaviors?

Distracting behaviors in the workplace are just that – behaviors that may seem annoying, irritating and downright distracting, to the point of interfering with other employees’ ability to get their jobs done efficiently and in a productive atmosphere.


Examples of distracting behaviors can include things like excessive chatter about personal and non-work topics, difficulties with communication, social skills issues, attention seeking behaviors, and emotional immaturity.


These types of behaviors can obviously create problems, and while it may seem that they often do not “cross the line” with regard to policy violations or decreased performance, they do create difficulties which can impact workplace culture and productivity.


What to do, what to do!


With distracting behaviors, often the first approach is an informal discussion with the employee about the behaviors in question. Some employees may not be aware that their behavior is an issue, or that it causes problems for others with whom they work.


Be prepared to give specific examples, including examples of the impact that the behavior has on the work environment, and be able to provide suggestions for corrections, improvements, and specifically what new behaviors you would like to see from the employee.

Set a time for follow-up


Often employees are caught by surprise at the feedback, and need time to process what they have been told, and to think about the new behaviors suggested to them.


Checking in with the employee several days after the initial meeting is recommended, to see if they have any questions and feedback for you that can help keep the process on track.


Observing whether the employee is attempting to implement feedback in a positive manner, ignoring the feedback, or is having difficulty but trying to change behavior is key, and will help you determine whether further intervention will be necessary.


Observe and Act


If the employee is able to take the feedback and move forward positively and productively, great!


If not, continue to monitor and provide feedback as necessary. If the behavior continues to create problems, or escalates, a more formal Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) may be warranted.


Be sure to document your conversations with the employee, any consultations with Human Resources or other relevant parties within your organization, as well as any additional behavioral observations and/or changes in performance.


Stay Tuned!


Following our continuum, next month we will focus on addressing disruptive behaviors. These include conducts such as angry outbursts, “toxic” behaviors, gross insubordination, lack of accountability, attendance issues, performance issues, and highly emotional and chaotic behaviors.



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