For Those Who Have A Complicated Relationship With Feedback
Sara Ismail-Beigi Bartlett speaks with guests about their ideas, perspectives, and best practices regarding feedback. For some, this process can be alarming, but it is essential and a key basis for improvement.
This week Sara gives a Business Bite on Cost of Difficult Behavior or conflict in the workplace. On the surface level, of course there are short term effects of not dealing with challenging behavior. It can be consequential for an organization to ignore this. It’s important to consider the implications that could manifest in the short, medium and long term, as a result of leaving conflict ignored. Subscribe to the podcast for more business bites!
Welcome to Business Bites. My name is Sara. This is the podcast for busy professionals who want the quick hits of business terminology, historical context, and strategies for integration. This week we're going to be talking about the cost of difficult behavior.
When we talk about difficult behavior in the workplace, you can imagine this in a number of different scenarios. Whether it's one coworker that you really struggle to get along with, or two coworkers having challenges communicating with each other and getting work product completed. Perhaps it's a whole team that's unable to get a task completed or an initiative even started because of infighting, because of conflict in the workplace.
On the surface level, when we think about the cost, the monetary cost of dealing with difficult behavior or not dealing with it, on the surface level, we can think of what are some of the short-term consequences of dealing with that conflict in the workplace. Sure, we might lose a client deal. We might lose an account. We might have some kind of initiative that doesn't go through because of that immediate and visible conflict.
But when we start thinking about cost and a little bit more of the medium and or long term, that's where things start getting a little bit more concerning. In the medium term, you might be considering costs such as what turnover might look like, or employee engagement. What's the morale of the team or the organization? Or how does ignoring difficult behavior impact productivity?
Now, on the surface level, we don't want it to be impacting productivity, but it does. And so when you're thinking about the cost of dealing with that behavior, yes, turnover, engagement, morale, they all come to mind as costs. That we might be able to easily quantify understanding what things about the work are not getting done and what is getting done.
When I start to push groups thinking a little bit about the long-term implications or the long-term costs of not dealing with difficult behavior, this is where it gets challenging to see the horizon. For example, if you work in an organization where you are having employees with low morale, low engagement, low productivity, over time that might manifest, let's say, as burnout or resentment in the way that people are doing that work.
Now, sure, there's not a monthly or a daily cost for burnout, but what about a situation where that burnt-out employee is using more sick time? That burnt-out employee might need to go on FMLA. That burnt-out employee might be using more of the healthcare benefits. And it's important to provide those services and important to have those resources for employees who need it.
But organizationally, if month after month after month, you have more employees utilizing your healthcare benefit, guess what happens? Your premiums go up to be able to cover the cost. And so, over a one, three, or five-year turn, employees start needing to pay for the consequence of not dealing with difficult behavior.
Another example, for instance, with that same low burnout, same low productivity that might be coming up in an organization, if you are a company that uses equipment, you operate a fleet, you have different tools that you use as a part of your job, if employees are burnt out, frustrated, unable to focus on the workplace, there might be accidents, there might be injuries, there might be other things that impact the physical equipment. A car accident, crashes, machinery being broken. That, in turn, if you don't own that equipment, has an impact on your vendor agreements, your licensing agreements. The cost to maintain that equipment might also increase.
Another thing to consider with some of the longer-term implications is what this does for the vendor relationships. If everyone at your organization is struggling with engagement, again, due to a lack of dealing with difficult behavior, then it's going to show up outside of the organization too. And as you know, by being a business leader, organizations that are hard to work with, you charge them at full price.
So considering what the implications might be of the vendor relationships you have, are you being charged more than you could be by having an organizational culture which might be toxic or unhealthy for employees, which then manifests in the vendor relationships? Whether you're thinking about the short, medium, or long term, the cost of not dealing with difficult behavior is real. Whether or not it's easy to quantify is something else.
So I'd encourage you to think about the next time you are faced with a situation where you're confronted with the decision of, should I address this or shouldn't I? What is that cost either upfront or hidden of not dealing with this behavior in the moment?
This has been Sarah with Business Bites. You can reach me at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you on what other terminology you'd like bite-sized. As always, give us a quick rating on your platform of choice and share this podcast with a friend. We'll see you next time.