Disruptive behaviour

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Jody Foster on Wharton education site, describes disruptive behaviour as

It’s actually a variety of behaviors that include, for example, verbally or physically threatening others, intimidating co-workers, or exhibiting condescending behavior that puts people on edge and [makes] them unable to function.

People say that dealing with disruptive behavior in the corporate world is easier than in the medical profession, because in a company, you just fire the troublemakers. But that’s in and of itself incredibly disruptive, and besides, it’s not the point. Human capital is important, and good human capital is hard to come by. You make investments in people.

The lion’s share of disruptive men who I’ve seen tend to fall — and I am making gross generalizations here — into what I would call “vanilla silos” of narcissism, and the interventions — including cognitive behavioral therapy or executive coaching– can be relatively formulaic.

As a psychiatrist, I categorize people based upon prominent personality traits. Disruptive behavior spans the entire spectrum of categories. The biggest trouble areas are people who have these basic narcissistic tendencies, manifesting as an inability to see past their personal needs or goals for the good of the team.

I also see a lot of people who have avoidance or obsessive-compulsive traits — for example, micromanaging that gets in the way of work. On the other end of the personality spectrum are people who are paranoid and look at the world suspiciously. There’s another group of people who simply lack social skills or etiquette, and this, too, leads to unpleasant interactions.

After reading this article, I could put a name to a behaviour. As in I do encounter such people at work, day in and day out. But I could not put exact phrase to their behaviour. But Jody makes the job easy for me.

First verbally or physically threatening others. I have had many bosses in the past who had this tendency. At present also I have to interact with one senior official in a related institution who exactly meets the description. I have adopted an attitude of ignoring his bullshit, and affirming whatever he says. This seems to have worked, and he is not able to shout much most of the times.

Exhibiting condescending behaviour again brings to mind two people to start with. One  is attached to a senior officer so he thinks he owns the world. Other people bootlick him so he is spoilt. But yours truly does not give much weight to his tantrums, so only recourse left to him is start behaving in condescending manner, as in not responding to hello, not smiling back, talking through other persons, backbiting. But by now I have come to adjust to his shitty behaviour, most of the times.

Narcissists, yep, they are my favourites. One can at least understand the reason for their behaviour, as in being selfish, self-centred and self-serving. Everything in the world has to revolve around them.  Whatever they are doing is the most difficult job in the world. Whatever they are doing is the most important job in the world. And the moment they are assigned different tasks, the new tasks become most difficult and most important. They think that because they are with the organisation for long, they know all the things. They are rigid on the ways, and very opposed to change. What we call prisoners of precedents.

Micro-managing is definitely another problem. One of the bosses used to give a job and then follow it up 100 times. He never realised that doing the job will take its own time, and he should wait for that much time. He thought just by following up vigorously, he will make things move faster. He will give a task to one person, and then to speed up things or have more options, assign the same task to some other person also. We used to hate him for this, wasting time of two executives on same task, and not even telling them that he is doing this shit. Then he always made us do everything 10-15 times, further improvise, further improvise. He thought that being a hard taskmaster, even if not required, is a good managerial skill. What it resulted in is we started giving him rough drafts in first 2-3 versions, knowing fully well that he will ask us to do it again. Another problem with him was that he always kept things till the last minute and even when time was short, he kept us do improvisations. Many a times things got delayed and there were crises. But he never learnt to optimize.

Suspicious type also I have faced. There is this junior of mine who doubted each of my actions. Even if I did something for her good, she tried to find my interest in it. She always looked at the negative side of things. I am hoping that after working for some more time with me, she might change her view of me. But I don’t know since basic nature rarely changes. No?  

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