Minimize Counterproductive Or Deviant Behaviour Management Essay

Counterproductive and deviant behaviours can be found all around us, but matter largely in professional fields. When in an organisation, any deviant behaviour is detected; it is an indication toward a serious threat to organisation as well as the staff from different perspectives. In human resources, deviant behaviours of employees and managing them have gained increased attention due to a range of reasons. For the success of an organisation, management of deviant and counterproductive behaviours is very critical. In this essay, the causes behind deviant behaviours, their influence on the employees, the person and organisation as a whole and the ways to manage/ minimise these deviant behaviours will be addressed.

Counterproductive behaviours have become a workplace norm and its popularity is rising gradually. It is very obvious that workplace situations vary and therefore, they leave an impact on employees as well. These deviant behaviours by the employees not just harm the organisation but also affect other organisational members (Spector & Fox, 2002). Counterproductive Workplace Behaviours are the acts by the members of an organisation, which are against the organisational legitimate interest (Sackett, 2002). These are intentional as well as unintentional behaviours, resulting from different causes and motivations.

It has been identified in journal of organisational behaviour (2008) that an estimated 75 per cent of the employees do engage in such deviant harmful behaviours like; unexcused absenteeism, sabotage, theft, and vandalism cooperate (McGurn, 1988; Harper, 1990). Other such behaviours that have been reportedly found are sexual abuse of women (Gruber, 1990), organisational cynicism (Wilkerson, 2002), withholding efforts (Kidwell & Bennett, 1993), spreading rumours (Skarlicki and Folger, 1997), physical assault and verbal abuse (Spector and Fox, 2002), lying (Depaulo and Depaulo, 1989), and absenteeism (Johns, 1997). These behaviours violate organisational working standards and can be antisocial (Robinson & Bennett, 1995). Also they may affect the overall performance, decision making and even the organisational financials which can be very costly and harmful for the organisation’s wellbeing.

Many researchers have identified a direct link between the personality traits of the employees and the Counterproductive behaviour at workplace (Salgado, 2002; Colbert, Mount, Harter, Witt, and Barrick, 2004; Dalal, 2005; Blickle, Schlegel, Fassbender, and Klein, 2006; Berry, Ones, & Sackett, 2007). However, it has also been viewed that many times, even intrinsically honest employees are forced to behave inaptly, if the work environment or management are unjust towards them; or if they have been treated poorly. Managers are also seen to be the ones creating such workplace environment unintentionally where they are basically contributing towards their employees’ deviant acts (Greenberg, 1997). Therefore only personality is not a sole predictor of deviant workplace behaviour (Robinson and Greenberg, 1998) and many other factors contribute in counterproductive workplace behaviour. The management in turn fires the honest and capable employees so as to diminish these deviant organisational behaviours, but counteractively they need to put in a lot of efforts towards identifying the real causes of these behaviours and should wisely minimise these acts.

The focus of this essay throughout the rest of the paragraphs is to critically identify the causes behind counterproductive workplace behaviour, the extent to which these behaviours influence the workplace norm, its overall power and how these behaviours can be minimised. Therefore, in a sequential manner, all of these points will be analysed.

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Countless factors influence counterproductive behaviour which consists of acts that harm or are intend to harm the organisation or its stakeholders. A vital aspect is to identify the reasons behind that, why employees are involved in these deviant behaviours. There are certain factors that influence counterproductive behaviour, identified by Litzky, Eddleston & Kidder (2006), which are under the direct control of manager that may unconsciously force the employees into engaging in deviant behaviours like; unsatisfactory compensation or rewarding structures, unfair employee treatment, negative attitudes, social pressures to conform, job performance ambiguity and violation of employees trust.

Competing for financial rewards causes employees to think only for themselves with the belief that nonstandard behaviours are compulsory to get ahead in their career fight (Crossen, 1993; Peterson, 2002). Managers are identified to be often as the main cause behind workplace theft, because many of them ignore such issues in order to conform to the social pressures, and thus encourage other employees to engage in similar deviant behaviours (Greenberg, 1997). These research studies have found that financial rewards are one of the prime reasons behind the counterproductive behaviours of employees. Not only for competing and leaving the colleagues behind, but also in the run of gaining more financial rewards, these employees sometimes do not feel reluctant to take aggressive actions. Deviant behaviours is one such acts that these employees are found to be practicing.

Another research study (Fodchuck, 2007) revealed that both the employee characteristics and the workplace environmental aspects are linked with counterproductive behaviour in an organisation. Organisational factors like job design, workplace injustice and perceived stress initiates these behaviours and individual characteristics that helps in triggering CWB consists of self-control, will power, sensation seeking (Marcus and Schuler, 2004), and motives (Rioux and Penner, 2001). All these researchers have argued that these environmental aspects are increasingly linked with the deviant behaviour in the organisation.

A management journal, (Robinson & O’Leary-Kelly, 1998) termed Counterproductive workplace conducts as antisocial behaviour, because these acts are harmful for the organisation. As per this study, the antisocial behaviours of employees are influenced in work groups through social learning and social information processing method. The workgroup largely influence an individual employee’s antisocial behaviour, and CWB of a workgroup is a significant predictor of the individual employees CWB at work.

A study conducted in 2008 (Skarlicki, Barclay & Pugh) explain downsizings and layoffs as the major factor behind counterproductive behaviour by the employees because most victims, who lose their jobs, are loyal workers and consider this management decision as an unfair treatment towards them. These employees in turn engage in organisational retaliation as revenge to their wrongdoer. Their negative emotions emerge by bad mouthing about the organisation to the organisational members and others, conveying a strong negative impact of the company. This retaliation is very similar to previously defined antisocial behaviour (Giacalone and Greenberg, 1996), counterproductive behaviour (Fox and Spector, 2005) and organisational deviance (Robinson and Bennett, 1995) thus overlapping with the duskier side of the organisational behaviour theories with potentially negative consequences for the organisation and other individuals. Many times in such situations even the informational justice and supporting information does not help to be effective in reducing this retaliating behaviour (Dalal, 2005). All of these research studies have discussed that these factors extremely play their role to generate deviant behaviour among employees.

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Another study by Smithikrai (2008) suggests that personality traits and Counterproductive workplace behaviour have a direct link with each other; however, situational moderators in which counterproductive workplace behaviour takes place can increase the cogency of personality measures in predicting deviant behaviours. Situational factors in relation with personality traits are strong stimulators of counterproductive workplace behaviours. Individual behaviour reflects relevant traits when the situation is week, whereas when the situations are strong then the behaviour of the employees are clear, and they meet the behavioural demand of the situation (Blickle et al, 2006; Robinson & Greenberg, 1998; Marcus & Schuler, 2004). Therefore situational strength is very much critical in identifying these deviating individual behaviours, and in strong situations the employee performance gets monitored where Counterproductive workplace behaviour is not tolerated (Berry et al, 2007; Greenberg, 1997).

Wilkerson, Evans & Davis (2008) conducted a study testing evidence of the co-workers’ social influence on other employees bad mouthing, organisational cynicism and supervisor assessments of employees’ organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB). The study suggests that the badmouthing behaviour of close co-workers largely impacts other co-workers, influencing their similar behaviours, due to the result of social information processing. Further the study advises that there also becomes a possibility of a chain reaction effect, where the organisational cynics are likely to engage other in their bad mouthing behaviour, creating other cynics within the organisation. This results in negative performance outcomes, reduction in management trust and further intentions of engaging in OCB (Litzky et al, 2006; Crossen, 1993). Bad mouthing has found to be one of the critical factors behind generating deviant behaviour.

Yet another research by Tepper, Henle, Lambert, Giacalone and Duffy (2008) states that abusive supervision consequences in lower level of employee commitment with its employer, leading to little desire of working with the organisation, lower level of attachment with the organisation resulting to greater deviance against the organisation. This explains that effective employee commitment is estimated to facilitate the relationship between abusive management and organisational deviation. Abusive supervision is yet another costly workplace factor impacting negatively on employees, employer as well as organisational performance (Litzky et al, 2006; Crossen, 1993).

Research study by jones (2009) have a different viewpoint, stating that there are different relations among different types of injustice, desire toward revenge and counterproductive work behaviours with one’s supervisor and organisation separately. The results identified that counterproductive workplace behaviours related with organisation can be minimised through increase in procedural justice whereas behaviours related to supervisors can be minimised when the supervisor treat their employees fairly, with dignity, and respect as well as provide justifications for decisions that influences them (Litzky et al, 2006; Crossen, 1993).

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There are many factors identified that influence instigate deviant behaviours by the employees (Peterson, 2002). Of all these factors influencing Counterproductive behaviours every aspect has strong and weak impact over the behaviours, depending on the situation and the individual (Crossen, 1993). Age, cognitive ability, self-control, emotional intelligence and personality all correlates and create strong or weak affect over these behaviours by the employees (Fodchuk, 2007). Therefor situational moderator and personality mediator helps in increasing or decreasing the power of these behaviours by the employees (Rioux & Penner, 2001).

Reduction of these deviating behaviours in an organisation begins with recruitment and selection phase of hiring new employees through the use of personality testing, cognitive ability screening, and integrity screening (Marcus & Schuler, 2004). But since situational factors emerge out of routinely day to day operations of the organisation including organisational constraints, illegitimate tasking, lack of compensation and rewards, interpersonal conflicts and lack of organisational/management justice thus organisation needs to involve much more into minimising these behaviours (Robinson et al, 1998).

Mangers are equally liable and in a better position to control and minimise these behaviours within the organisation (Giacalone & Greenberg, 1996). If the outcome is similar by different employees on a particular position, then this can be termed as a warning for the manager to identify his personal behaviour and management ability (Robinson & Bennett, 1995). It is the job of manger to create an ethical working environment so that inherently honest employees do not turn their behaviours into negative and counterproductive ones (Skarlicki, et al, 2008).

Apart from this building reliance relationships, creating ethical policies and procedures, setting achievable targets, creating effective supervision and monitoring performance ultimately helps in toning down the deviant behaviours of the employees in the organisation (Depaulo & Depaulo, 1989; Smithikria, 2008). Similarly one step that the organisation can take into reducing these behaviours can be through enhancing organisational justice, allowing workplace participation of employees, maintaining communication, and paying close attention to identification of signs for interpersonal conflict (Tepper et al, 2008; David, 2008; Spector, 2005). Besides this lay off, employees needed to be financially supported and should be well informed in advance, or given a notice period so that they may not bad mouth the organisation and put its integrity at stake. Making other opportunities available to them after some time period also helps (Wilkerson et al, 2008; Jones, 2009)

In the last, combating deviant and counterproductive workplace behaviours can be costly and very much time consuming but organisations are in a much predicted position of minimising these behaviours through identifying the main factors and taking actions in reducing it, which would thus increase the organisational performance, workplace environment and the overall success.


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