Disruptive behavior





Teamworkin a health care facility is critical in the achievement of desiredhealth outcomes. However, in several cases, the teamwork iscompromised by disruptive behaviors which affect the performance offellow workers and the health care facility in general. Disruptivebehaviors usually results into conflicts, poor working relationshipsand consequently harm to the patient or poor outcome. Disruptivebehaviors includes bulling, harassment, racial slurs, abusivelanguage, inappropriate sarcasm and criticism, threats and otherundesirable behaviors targeting colleagues are very common in themodern workplaces. As a result, majority of workers in modernworkplaces have witnessed incidences that can be classified asdisruptive behaviors. Some of the disruptive behaviors areperpetrated by senior employees or direct bosses in workplaces. Thereare numerous negative effects of disruptive behaviors that have beenobserved in different workplaces (Osland et al 2007). Of increasedimportance is how health care organization deals with disruptivebehaviors in workplaces. The approach of the management towardsdisruptive behaviors can result into change of behaviors or aggravatethe impacts of the behavior on the employees and organizationperformance. Therefore, it is very critical to develop an effectiveplan to deal with an identified case of disruptive behavior.


Ina relatively large community health care facility, the humanresources department is faced with a serious issue with one of themost experienced and active surgeon in the facility. Despite hisexperience and expertise, the surgeon has a serious case ofdisruptive behavior which has an impact on health outcomes in thefacility as well as the performance of other workers working directlyor indirectly with him. For sometime, the surgeon has reported tohave had an inappropriate behavior especially in the way he treatshis subordinates. For example, in many occasions, he expresses angerand outbursts against the nursing staff. He is also known tomanipulate the planned schedules especially surgical schedules, hasinappropriate responses to emergency calls from the hospital and hisdocumentation is relatively poor. His tone and language towards othermedical and non medical staff, including the administration isabrasive. However, it is important to note that the hospital ishighly depended on this particular surgeon and the management can notafford to lose him. One the other hand, other workers are expressingreservations in working with him. There is an urgent need to dealwith the disruptive behaviors exhibited by the senior member ofstaff.

Managingdisruptive behaviors in the scenario

Identificationand analysis of the problem

Thefirst step in dealing with the particular disruptive behavior isidentifying and analyzing the problem. Management does not involvemanaging people, but rather managing their behaviors. Management ofbehaviors in a health care organization involves setting standardsthat restricts how the employees behave within the organizationenvironment. Employees may have divergent moral backgrounds and otherfactors that influence their behaviors. However, it is theresponsibility of the management to ensure that the organizationpolicies and norms are strictly followed by all employees. In thecase scenario, the management needs to identify the problem byestablishing whether the disruptive behaviors conform to the policiesof the organization. If the surgeon is found not to comply with theset regulation, there is a need to take disciplinary action againsthim.

Onethe problem has been identified, the management needs to analyze thesurgeon case based on the available information. An analysis willenable the management to determine whether the case of disruptivebehavior is worth management action, whether the surgeon knows thesignificance of his behaviors and the whether the behaviors arebeyond the control of the surgeon. Analysis should also involvelooking at the consequences of the disruptive behaviors on theperformance of the surgeon as well as other workers in the facility.For example, in some cases, the behaviors of the surgeon, althoughconsidered disruptive by other workers, may enhance the healthoutcome in the facility. In this case, action by the management islikely to reinforce non performance rather than improving theperformance of the hospital. At this stage, it is critical for themanagement to analyze the case before engaging employees. This willavert miscarriage of justice, futile process and negative outcome ofthe conflict resolution process.

Discussionof the disruptive behaviors

Aftera carefully identifying and analyzing the disruptive behavior, it isimportant for the management to engage the surgeon and discuss thebehavior and its impacts on the organization. Mainly, whether themanagement finds necessary to discuss the problem with the employeeeven in cases where there is reasons to believe that there is noreasonable grounds to follow-up the case. It is important to notethat the surgeon is one of the critical professions in theorganization. Although he is not indispensable, losing the surgeonwill have a significant impact on the facility performance. Therefore, it is important to consider the implication of thediscussion on the relationship with the surgeon relative to themagnitude of the problem. The management should be able to developan appropriate approach to an experienced and performing employeewith a poor attitude. The discussion is more successful if thesurgeon agrees that there is a problem. However, this is dependent onthe approach taken by the management. The aim of the management inthe discussion should be conflict resolution and convincing thesurgeon to change his approach rather than punishing the surgeon.This will facilitate in the formulation of an appropriate solution tothe disruptive behavior as well as commitment from the surgeon. Despite this, the surgeon should be made aware of the negativeimpacts of his disruptive behaviors on other employees and theorganization and specific actions the management is likely to takeagainst his if there is no significance improvement.

Anticipationof employee’s reaction

Themanagement needs to anticipate and adequately prepare for adversereaction from the surgeon. Based in the personality and behaviorsexhibited by the surgeon towards the management and other employee,the management should expect and be prepared for undesirableresponse. Irrespective of how the management approaches him, thesurgeon is likely to be hostile and cantankerous. This may resultinto name calling and disrespectful argument. Since there is nolikelihood of aggression, the management should allow the surgeon tovent but emphasis on the significance of the matter. Nonetheless, themanagement should be willing to respect and put into considerationany possible emotional response from the employee. Most importantly,the management should be cognizant of the fact that the surgeon maybe unwilling to acknowledge the problem or cooperate in resolving theissue. In this case, the plan will have failed. The management shouldbe prepared for this eventuality, for example, planning for hisreplacement or scheduling another meeting.

Documentationand Follow-up

Anexpression of willingness to change the behavior by the surgeon isnot a guarantee that there will be observable changes resulting intodecline in disruptive behaviors. Generally, individuals who exhibitdisruptive behaviors in workplaces are more likely to resist orchallenge disciplinary actions. This is especially true if theemployee behavior is motivated by the misconception that he is verysenior or indispensible. This has negative impacts on attempts by theemployee to discard disruptive behavior. Therefore, it is importantto keep a clear and accurate record of the employee misconducts,actions taken and agreed course of action for future reference. Thiswill enable to management to track the willingness and commitment ofthe surgeon to discarding disruptive behaviors.

Thefinal step in dealing with the surgeon’s disruptive behavior isfollow-up. After the surgeon agree to discard the disruptivebehavior, it is not appropriate for the management to close the fileand put it away. Follow ups ensure that there is a continuousimprovement and prevents the likelihood of reverting back to theinitial stages of disruptive behaviors. The incidence informs themanagement about the potential undesirable behaviors the surgeon islikely to have and therefore, take necessary precautions to preventescalation of the adverse effects of disruptive behaviors. However,the primary function of follow ups should be recognition ofimprovement and employee efforts to change the behaviors.Additionally, the follow up would allow the management to takenecessary intervention and support to the surgeon, such as positivecoaching and motivation.


Managingdifficult employees and disruptive behaviors. (Coursenotes).

Osland,J. S. et al (2007). Organizationalbehavior: an experimental approach,Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.