Staff on the naughty step dealing with counterproductive workplace behaviour
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Staff on the Naughty Step: Dealing with counterproductive workplace behaviour. AUA Branch Meeting, University of Kent Thursday 10 July 2014. Sandra Henry School Manager, School of Languages and Cultures, University of Sheffield and Network Coordinator

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Staff on the Naughty Step: Dealing with counterproductive workplace behaviour

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Staff on the Naughty Step: Dealing with counterproductive workplace behaviour

AUA Branch Meeting, University of Kent

Thursday 10 July 2014

Sandra Henry

School Manager, School of Languages and Cultures,

University of Sheffield

and Network Coordinator

AUA Departmental Administrators Network

Tracy & Olivia


Definitions and terminology

What CWB is not:

  • Labelling people.

  • Genuine sickness absences.

  • Genuine medical conditions, for which a diagnosis exists.

  • Genuine differences of opinion or disagreements expressed in a respectful way.

  • Authorised absences/lateness.

Harm aimed at an organization

Coming to work late without permission




Taking long breaks

Trying to look busy while doing nothing

Being rude to customers


Failing to report a problem so that it gets worse


Leaving early without permission

Harm aimed at an individual

Derogatory or nastycomments




Silent protests

Not returning a phone call to someone you should

Outbursts (crying/anger)


Playing games

Ignoring someone at work

Misuse of humour


Dirty looks

Making someone look bad

Verbally abusing a colleague


Ayoko, Callan and Hartel 2003

Performance problems

Time wasting


Job neglect

Withholding effort

Withholding efficiency


Ignorance about rules

Slow working

Not following procedures

Costliness of CWB (1)

Staffing problems:

Retention issues



Disruption to teams

Problematic working relationships


Staff turnover

Sickness absence

Recruitment costs

Costliness of CWB (2)

Mental health related difficulties



Workplace depression

Nervous conditions

Emotional distress

Panic attacks

organizational & interpersonal

  • Organisational

  • Minor

  • Serious

  • Interpersonal


A member of your team is unhappy with her performance review. She believes the feedback and rating you gave her are not fair or accurate, and she responds by badmouthing you, to the rest of the team, and her comments get back to you.

Is this a problem?

How would you handle it?

Key features of CWB

Some reasons for CWB

  • Boredom

  • Role conflict and/or role ambiguity

  • Unhappiness with grade/job

  • Job stress related to role conflict and ambiguity, and workload

  • Negative feedback from the manager

  • Feeling betrayed or let down by a manager or senior staff

  • Perceived injustice

  • Unrest/uncertainty (change)

  • Restructures or office reorganization

  • Frustration

The role of frustration (Spector 1997)

Passive leadership


“Managers who display a passive leadership style model an apathetic, indifferent mode of behaviour consistent with the “whatever” mentality that allows incivility to flourish.”

Harold and Brian (2014)

Passive leadership

  • What is it?

  • a reticence to act or failure to provide leadership

  • a lax, informal work environment

  • a pattern of inaction

  • neglecting workplace problems

  • less likely to define and clarify behavioural expectations

  • generally don’t take proactive steps to model and reward appropriate conduct

    Harold and Brian (2014)

Examples of Workplace incivility:

  • negative eye contact

  • giving someone the silent treatment

  • asking for input and then ignoring it

  • "forgetting" to share credit for collaborative work, or not giving credit where its due

  • waiting impatiently over someone's desk to gain their attention

  • side conversations during a formal meeting or presentation

  • public reprimands

Personality…. Psychopaths, Narcissists, Machiavellian’s

People Management 2010

Personality traits

People Management 2010

CWB involving Facebook

  • Virgin Atlantic

  • New Park Nursing Home

  • Royal Bank of Scotland

  • Argos

  • Royal Scots Guard

    'Her and William drove past me on Friday and all I got was a s****y wave while she looked the opposite way from me, stupid, stuck-up cow. Am I not good enough for them! Posh b****. Who really gives a f*** about her?'

What can managers do?

The goal is to develop the skill of stepping outside the situation to ask “what’s happening, why is it happening”, and then using this understanding to take positive action.

CWB caused by the manager?

  • Failing to understand their own managerial style, and the role this plays in the situation

  • Excusing CWB because of “talent”

  • Failing to act

  • Failing to address problems as they arise

  • Showing favouritism

  • Being inconsistent

  • Setting a bad example

  • Job design and management procedures

Nick and Carol


Managerial action (1) (corrective &/or preventative)

  • Understand your own managerial, professional and behavioural style.

  • Adopt vigilant selection and management procedures.

  • Facilitate good communication.

  • Consider the role that structure, job design and processes play in creating CWB or other deviant behaviour.

  • Look how work is allocated.

Managerial action (2) (corrective &/or preventative)

  • Implement effective supervision/line management

  • Adopt a zero tolerance approach…how?

  • Get help (HR, Line manager, peers)

  • Develop your ability to deal with difficult situations (training, skill building)

  • Tackle bad behaviour

Sandra [email protected] 2228454

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