How to manage employee behavior (essential traits, tips)

by Andy Nguyen
manage employee behavior

Wondering how to manage employee behavior?

Your employees’ behavior in the workplace determines how well they function as a team. And with most teams working remotely due to COVID-19, maintaining proper conduct is the only way to ensure that your organization works smoothly.

That’s why all current human resource management strategies heavily focus on managing employee behavior and creating a positive organizational culture. Apart from increasing their job satisfaction, it’ll also boost their job performance.

In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about employee behavior management. We’ll cover its importance, the 6 essential qualities for any employee, how to instill those qualities and finally, how to deal with an employee’s negative behavior.

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Let’s get started.

What is employee behavior?

Employee behavior can be defined as how an employee responds or reacts under different circumstances in your workplace.

Apart from adhering to workplace rules and maintaining professionalism, your employees must act responsibly and empathetically to uplift your corporate culture. 

Why should you monitor employee behavior?

One of the key responsibilities of any company is maintaining a healthy work environment

A positive organizational culture boosts every employee’s job satisfaction level and increases your employee retention. And the easiest way to create such an environment is by monitoring employee behavior.

Besides improving team cohesion, employees with good behavior also help you mitigate the risks of thefts and illegal use of the company’s resources. 

How should an employee behave?

How Should An Employee Behave?

Once you understand the importance of monitoring employee behaviors in the workplace, the next question is: how should your employees behave in the workplace?

Here are six behavioural qualities an employer should encourage their employees to have:

1. Humility

Humility is about acknowledging shortcomings, being eager to learn and not being boastful of one’s achievements. 

It’s also a desired behavior for proper team development. For example, a humble employee is more likely to take feedback positively and improve their performance.

To understand if a person is humble, ask questions during interviews and personality assessments like:

  • “Whom do you hold responsible for your failures?”
  • “Can you mention some instances when you have failed?

An arrogant, egotistical person is usually incapable of identifying their own failures, blaming others for the same. However, to instill humility in your workforce, you must lead by example

Your behavior must be supportive and mindful. Be polite when pointing out an employee’s mistakes or when asking them to do something. Additionally, try to offer constructive criticism when dealing with problems and acknowledge your own faults whenever necessary.

2. Adaptability

Your business is ever-evolving and so should your employees be.

Adaptability can be directly related to productivity and is an essential personal-development trait. The more adaptable an employee is, the less time they’ll take to adapt to a new role. 

Being adaptable enables an employee to wear multiple hats at the same time — which is crucial for startups and small businesses that might not have defined roles. 

An adaptable person usually replies positively to questions like:

  • “How would you adjust to unforeseen events, like the resignation of your superior?”
  • “How long would it take you to learn a new skill or tool?”

An inflexible person is reluctant, or even afraid, to shift from their comfort zone and is more concerned about the failure of implementing a new idea.

Conducting regular training sessions and encouraging your employees to propose alternative solutions to a problem are two easy ways to encourage adaptability.

3. Reliability

The reliability of an employee is a crucial factor in building teams, assigning tasks and meeting deadlines. 

A reliable employee can take a load off your shoulders, as you needn’t worry about supervising them. Reliability is also an essential leadership skill — and is something you should look out for in managers.

Remember, your employees are more likely to consult a reliable team leader with their concerns and problems.

You can judge how reliable an applicant/employee is by asking:

  • “In case I need a turnaround, can you work outside of normal work hours?”
  • “What’s the toughest work-related decision you had to make? Describe the outcome of the same”

People who are erratic or fickle are typically irregular at work, lack time management skills, change jobs frequently and are unwilling to account for their actions. 

Conducting periodic performance assessments and tracking the productivity of your employees — like their usual work hours and how long they spend on each project will give you an idea of their reliability.

Consider introducing a reward system for consistent performance and celebrate when an employee archives a target. This will boost the morale of your team and inspire them to work harder.

4. Communicativeness

Communication is what separates a team from the crowd.

A communicative employee talks about their concerns and opinion on every project. They notify team members about prior engagements and aren’t hesitant in seeking help.

Proper communication skills increase both employee performance and team spirit. 

It reduces the chances of communication failures and prevents an employee from feeling cornered under a heavy workload. It also helps sort out misunderstandings swiftly and uplifts the overall team spirit. 

To check if an employee or applicant is communicative, HR professionals usually ask them question  like:

  • “How comfortable are you with voicing your concerns?”
  • “Would you prefer to work alone or as part of a team?”

An uncommunicative worker will remain silent at every team discussion and on social media platforms. They are also likely to isolate themselves from their co-workers.

Communication depends on how comfortable your employees are around one another. Hold discussions with your employees regularly and encourage them to voice their opinions.

Additionally, hosting group-events like parties, outings and team games will have a positive effect on the communication between your employees. And with most teams working remotely now, conducting the right virtual team building activities is vital. 

Want ideas for effective virtual team building activities? Click here

5. Patience

A patient employee values the importance of the job even if it gets boring or repetitive and is usually more proficient in completing a complicated task. They’re unlikely to resign even when your business may not be growing as expected. 

Patient employees often possess excellent leadership skills and can be the best option when it comes to training/guiding new hires.

You can judge how patient a new hire is by asking:

  • “Narrate an incident of repeated failures and how you finally succeeded.”
  • “What do you do if someone gets on your nerves?”

Impatient employees are easily-frustrated and often lack emotional intelligence. They may even lack decision-making qualities and may execute a plan without prior evaluation of the circumstances.

One of the first steps in developing patience is having a healthy work-life balance — to ensure your employees aren’t neck-deep in work. Remember, if your employees have too many deadlines, they can’t help but rush through things and get frustrated easily.

Being level-headed while dealing with conflicts/disputes and encouraging employees to follow in your footsteps is a great way to instill patience in your employees.

6. Willingness To Learn

Every employee must strive for continuous improvement. It not only helps them realize their goals but also helps your business grow. 

One way to do this is by being in the constant loop of learning new things and implementing the knowledge in real-life. 

You can evaluate this behaviour of an employee/candidate by asking questions like

  • “How do you plan to work on your skillset?”
  • “Which areas do you think you can improve in?”

A disengaged employee is easily bored, takes frequent breaks/leaves and might consistently miss deadlines or targets.

Set individual targets for each employee based on their capabilities, and monitor their progress regularly. This will give you an idea of which employees work hard to improve. 

Additionally, hold regular coaching sessions to bring your employees up to speed on the latest technologies and trending business strategies.

How should an employee not behave?

We’ve covered some of the most important traits you should look for while assessing your employees’ behavior. 

But what about the behavioral issues that can disrupt your workforce or even sink your business?

Here are two examples of unacceptable behavior you should be wary of:

1. Over-ambitiousness

Being ambitious is great until it blinds your employees.

An ambitious employee is both reliable and self-improving. Their thirst for improving themselves also implies that they’re likely to be adaptable and self-reliant — both of which are positive behavior traits. 

However, it’s only positive until their behavior starts negatively affecting their co-workers.

Overly-ambitious behavior may also split your workforce into two groups — those who are dissatisfied with that specific employee but are unwilling to work as hard as they do and those who want to compete with them out of ego/jealousy. 

Why is this bad?

A team without a common goal can never be as productive as they should be. Not to forget, over-ambitious employees often change jobs. 

Two ways to manage the behavior of over-ambitious employees are:

  • Steer them in the right direction: while you should appreciate their enthusiastic behavior, let them know how their conduct is affecting the workplace.
  • Monitor their job satisfaction level: an employee trying to do more than what’s expected of them indicates their dissatisfaction with their current position. You should consider promoting them or assigning them greater responsibilities.

2. Defiance

Defiance can be defined as intentional, and often unreasonable, opposition.

A good employee will question you about your business strategy and workplace regulations. Voicing their concerns, insecurities and giving feedback on every business proceeding is what makes a healthy working environment. 

However, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your authority and the morale of your team.

As their leader, your behavior should be flexible and understanding. But not when it comes to setting counterproductive employee behavior straight. Otherwise, if others may start acting in the same manner, you’ll suffer from employee engagement issues. 

Here are two ways to deal with disobedient employee behavior:

  • Explain your ways: if an employee fails to see how doing what you ask of them is beneficial, they’re likely to be unwilling to do the task. So reason with them and explain yourself.
  • Appreciate their efforts: appreciating or rewarding your employees encourages them to work harder and to work as instructed. This also serves as motivation for other employees to grab the limelight the next time.

How to deal with unacceptable employee behavior?

Deal With Unacceptable Employee Behavior

We have already discussed specific ways to deal with employees who exhibit inappropriate behavior.

But what if that fails to change them and they still exhibit poor behavior?

Should you just ask them to resign right away?

Nope. Remember, filling an open position is easier said than done. 

So offboarding an employee should be your last resort when dealing with problem employees.

Here’s how you could deal with a toxic employee:

1. Reassign them

An employee exhibiting counterproductive behavior can result in other employees exhibiting the same counterproductive behavior too.

Your first step must be to minimize the contact of the toxic employee with the rest of the team — especially if the employee is part of a newly assembled team. You can also place them in a team of seasoned professionals where they can learn the right behavior to improve their performance.

2. Try to understand them

Bad behavior often stems from insecurities and misunderstandings.

Talk politely and patiently to an employee with a behavioral issue and try to understand their perspective. This will not only help you identify what you might be doing wrong but also if any other employee is suffering from the same problems.

3. Explain the consequences

People are often unaware of the consequences of their actions.

You must explain the consequences of inappropriate behavior to your employees. For example, the fear of a salary cut might cause a behavior change and help put them back on the right track.

4. Give them one last chance

Everybody deserves a chance to set things straight.

And so do your employees. After all, you must’ve seen something in them while hiring. That’s why it’s always important to give your employees the benefit of the doubt and give them a chance to rectify their toxic behavior before taking any drastic measures like firing them.  

Wrapping up

Managing people’s behavior can be challenging. 

To minimize the time you would otherwise spend on monitoring employee behaviour and performance, only hire candidates who fit your company culture and exhibit all those positive behavior traits we listed. 

This way, they’re aware of how things work and will fit in well – right from the start!

And in case you have to deal with difficult employee behavior, just follow the techniques we listed and you’ll be ready to go.

What qualities do you think are part of good organizational behavior?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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