Bad Behavior and the Difficult Employee

Kaplan University

Scenario 1: Bad Behavior?

Sergeant Officer Stevens reported that after roll call he heard two male officers telling sexually explicit jokes in the hallway. As the sergeant exited the roll call room, he noticed one of the female dispatchers standing within a few feet of the two officers. The sergeant chose to ignore the immediate situation and just made a report.

First, sexually explicit jokes at work are unprofessional and uncalled for. It’s hurtful and disrespectful. A female dispatcher was within ear shot of the offensive jokes. If the jokes were towards the female dispatcher or about her, it can be considered sexual harassment. Women police officers have a higher turnover rate than males and one cause is due to sexual harassment. Sergeants are actually in a strategic situation when it’s dealing with this in the work environment, and are expected to be proactive versus reactive to situation of this manner .

Sexual harassment is prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964Civil Rights Act of 1964, and can take one of two forms: quid pro quo sexual harassment, and hostile work environment sexual harassment . Quid pro quo sexual harassment is when “an individual is forced to grant sexual favors in order to obtain, maintain, or improve employment status”. Hostile work environment sexual harassment is when “individual employees are subjected to suggestive comments, photographs, jokes, obscene gestures, or unwanted physical contact. Hostile work environment sexual harassment has four elements: “the conduct is unwelcome; the conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive work environment; the conduct is perceived by the victim as hostile or abusive; and the conduct creates an environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive” .

It is clear that sexually explicit jokes at work is unwelcome, which would end in a sergeant writing a report on the incident. There can be several reasons why the sergeant ignored the situation and just wrote a report to submit. This might have not have been a onetime incident. Prior incidences in trying to correct bad behavior could have proved unsuccessful. The sergeant may even feel they’ll continue and make it worse if he tried to just warn them about their unprofessional behavior.

Supervisors must be prepared to stop the harassment, and take steps to stop any future occurrences . “Even the tacit acceptance of sexually inappropriate behavior on the part of employees sends the message that sexual harassment will be tolerated, regardless of formal department policy” . Sergeant Stevens didn’t try to stop it which may indeed give the impressions that he condones it, even though he did write a report instead of stopping it when it was happening.

Supervisors also have a duty to deal efficiently with and to report all known or reported cases of sexual harassment to the unit responsible for investigating employee misconduct and failure to take proper action or failure to report incidents of harassment as required by department policy is usually grounds for disciplinary action. Sergeant Stevens wrote a report about the incident and submitted it. This was what he should have done.

“Each supervisor has a responsibility to reinforce the department’s antiharassment training and behavior modification efforts by actively counseling subordinates on the topic of sexual harassment in the workplace. Sergeant could have pulled the two officers aside and spoke with them about their behavior, even threatened disciplinary action if it continued . He could have set a meeting up to discuss a time and place for such jokes and sensitivity for others. “Supervisors must make themselves accessible to victims and ensure that their complaints will be handled in a proactive, yet discreet and confidential manner”. He could have pulled the female dispatcher aside and asked if she was okay since she was so close to the others when they decided to make those types of jokes.

Scenario 2: The Difficult Employee

Officer Smith has become very difficult to deal with. During roll call, he is sarcastic about any new policy changes, orders, or directives given to him or the group. He is also one of the most productive officers you have, and other officers respect his leadership abilities. Recently, his sergeant brought disciplinary charges against Officer Smith. This resulted in a suspension and Officer Smith has now become far less productive.

Officer Smith is obviously an erudite that happens to have qualities of a defeatist. “Erudites have an opinion on just about everything” . Erudite officers are seldom at a loss for words and pride themselves on their command of language, respect order, and work comfortably within departmental regulations. Erudite officers use their expertise as a power base for influencing decisions and show strong leadership qualities .

Supervisors can deal with this type of employee by using their own expertise, especially when facing the unknown or engaging in complex problem solving. The supervisor should be able to integrate the knowledge of erudites in such a way that others do not take offense to its implementation . Also, the erudite shouldn’t be permitted to take over the leadership position, but instead acknowledge the contributions with praise.

“Defeatists are those who resist every new idea”. They react to change with skepticism and come off as cynical people . These officers never say anything good about anyone or anything, never have solutions, feel comfortable being disrupters, and are unyielding individuals . They reject new policies quickly and view new programs as worthless .

To deal with this type of employee is to confront him about an issue by asking for specifics and not generalities. The supervisor must make the employee explain his position, ask questions, and address the core of the issue that the employee might have. Officer Smith may be sarcastic about possible changes, orders, and directives, but he is still productive.

It would be the supervisor to confront Smith on why he’s being so disruptive with his sarcasm. “Everything possible should be done to clarify the situation and deal with the specific problem. It is not the supervisor’s place to try to change the personality of the defeatist” . The supervisor can’t change Smith, but can ask questions to figure out the reasoning behind the defiance.

The sergeant should’ve confronted Smith before taking disciplinary action if he or she hasn’t done so before. With the behavior continuing, then I could see why a suspension would be called for. With the employee now being unproductive, a meeting with Officer Smith may be the next step .

It must be reiterated to the employee that change is inevitable and either they accept and adapt to it or they get left behind and eventually lose their jobs. It would be hard to let someone go that has been productive in the past, but with the current lack of productiveness, it wouldn’t be that difficult to replace Officer Smith with someone that is qualified and willing to adapt to the changing organizational policies, procedures, and ideas. Productivity should be encourage and Officer Smith may need to be referred to an Employee Assistance Program for counseling and resources to address his underlying issues. This can address anything that can be behind the sarcasm and dealing with the after effects of his suspension, and may cause him to become productive once more.