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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds I examined the gap between the expectations of the organisation and the reality of the organisation and then what happens in that gap. And the reason we’ve gone into misbehaviour is you start talking to lots of CEOs about irony and they’re not particularly interested. You start talking to them about misbehaviours and they’re immediately interested. So although it’s the same set of theories and ideas, the idea that it’s a misbehaviour is much more useful than talking about irony. Everything I’ve been talking about is the idea of taking this idea that there’s an ironic sensibility in lots of employees that’s quite often misperceived as misbehaviour and taking that more into the working mainstream, corporate mainstream and academic mainstream as well.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 seconds Behaviours that happen in this gap between expectations and reality. Now some behaviours are bad and the reason we say misbehaviour rather than bad behaviour is we believe that only some behaviours are bad. A lot of them are being misinterpreted or misperceived or misunderstood, so lots of these behaviours are misunderstood natural behaviours in relation to the external environment. So some behaviours are bad, a fraud is bad, deliberate sabotage of an organisation is bad, but the ones we’re really interested in are some that are perceived as good but

Skip to 1 minute and 34 seconds actually are causing damage and that can be an over aggressive manager who stops his employees from performing to their ability level and others that are good that are perceived as bad. Now those are the ones we’re really interested in. The aim is to try and push people into a more imaginative way to see what’s actually going on and really stop blaming people for being - other than psychopaths and sociopaths and narcissists who have got personality disorders and you can’t change - most people are behaving like this because they’re struggling with the complexity of transformation and change in contemporary organisations.

Skip to 2 minutes and 12 seconds So once you stop whamming them and start thinking well I can hold their hands and help them, or I can use these people who are the ironists, who are voicing concerns and I can find out who they are and start listening to them and I can start solving problems. So I think it is a much healthier way of examining things. At an organisational level we would say that there are four Ds of misbehaviour. The one that everyone things is trendy is the idea is disengagement. That’s the most trendy sort of D. And we argue actually that’s the final cause - so I’ll talk about that last. Of the four Ds the most important one we argue is distrust.

Skip to 2 minutes and 47 seconds Now that can be distrust of the leadership, it can be distrust by the leadership of the employees, it can be distrust of the company by people in the market. And we regard that as an existential threat. If your organisation is distrusted or all the employees are distrusted by the leader of the organisation potentially you’re going to go out of business. The second D is what we call drag. Now there was some research by Gary Hamel on drag and he really this is old school managerial ideas that are in place now that aren’t actually catching up with the kind of work that needs to be done.

Skip to 3 minutes and 26 seconds So it’s stopping people performing the way they can do and causing people to become hyper-stressed and hyper-anxious because this asking for a level of certainty that does not exist in modern complex organisations. The third one is distraction everyone gets this immediately. Distraction is what happens when you have digital technology, iPhones, email, social media etc and open plan offices where you get noise and people moving around, people speak too loudly on the phone, interrupting you in the middle of doing something of high concentration. And then the last one is disengagement. Now disengagement is obviously relatively well known, it’s people who are being cynical or apathetic and (inaudible) presenteeism - absenteeism.

Skip to 4 minutes and 12 seconds We all regard that as the final symptom that’s actually caused by the other three and anybody who tries to solve disengagement without looking at the other three is on a hiding to nothing.

Types of misbehaviour within organisations

Misbehaviour in organisations can be damaging to both employees and the organisation as a whole.

Over the last two decades, the prevalence of misbehaviour in the workplace has come to stay, coupled with a broad range of norm violating behaviours which suggests that all such actions may be on the increase. If we look through the newspapers and on social media we will find famous cases of misbehaviour in the workplace. One of them is the Facebook scandal in which user data was secretly harvested for political purposes in 2016.

Another widely known case is the Goldman Sachs scandal. When investigations were carried out, they unearthed a culture of manipulation, turning a blind eye, fraud and silence in order to hide the illegal activities taking place within this organisation. There have been other cases of employees gunning down several colleagues and co-workers because they felt aggrieved.

These examples are serious cases of misbehaviour at work. In the next steps we’ll look at the three main types of organisational misbehaviour in more detail in terms of the underlying intention of the individual.

These are:

  • misbehaviour that benefits self
  • misbehaviour that tends to benefit members of the employing organisation
  • misbehaviour that inflicts damage or is destructive

Before we delve deeper into these types, listen to Dr Richard Claydon who shares a range of examples of misbehaviour at work as a starting point.

Your task

Having listened to Dr Richard Claydon’s viewpoints, what are the most prevalent types of misbehaviour that occur within your organisation, or an organisation that you are aware of?

To what extent have they impacted or could they impact on your organisation as a whole? Give examples to support your views.

Make sure to avoid the sharing of sensitive information that identifies organisations and/or individuals.

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This video is from the free online course:

An Introduction to Organisational Behaviour: How to Understand Your People

Coventry University