How to Deal with Disrespectful Employees

How to Deal with Disrespectful Employees

In an organization, respect and good relationships bring about a  peaceful work environment but hostility leads to instability in a work environment. Disrespectful employees will hamper the productivity of an organization. Disrespectful employees make the work environment very discomforting for other coworkers. This toxic behavior makes the work environment not to be positive and insubordination makes employees treat their supervisors badly. As an employer, if you want your work environment to be positive; you must deal with the issue of disrespect exhibited by coworkers. Keep in mind that a good attitude starts with management. If any employee feels disrespected by a higher-up, they’re more likely to act inappropriately. As a manager, you need to exemplify respect with your employees, and they’ll be stooped to follow your criterion behavior.


What is Disrespectful Behavior in a Workplace?

It is any behavior that is unprofessional, rude, offensive, and inappropriate which makes the work environment toxic. This behavior can be manifested both in actions and words: if an employee is verbally abusive or bully other coworkers, this is disrespectful behavior.

Examples of Disrespectful Behavior at Work

  • Rudeness and insubordination
  • Biased Attitude
  • Hostility
  • Outbursts of Anger
  • Using Profane or Vulgar language
  • Gossiping or Lying
  • Using Abusive Language
  • Bullying
  • Demoting Someone


Addressing Disrespectful Employees at Work

Assess the Circumstance

As a manager or employer, it is wrong to jump to conclusion that an employee is disrespectful; consider what led to the scene before giving your verdict. For instance, an employee that shows outbursts of emotion because a coworker spilled coffee on him; may just be reacting to a bad situation. In addition, you need to also consider if the employee is fond of being disrespectful, or if it is just a recent attitude. Analyzing the circumstance appropriately will help you make the right decision.


Document the Evidence of the Employee’s Disrespectful Attitude

The next thing to do is to gather enough evidence that proves that the employee is disrespectful. It is wrong to jump to the conclusion that an employee is disrespectful because of a particular incident but gather enough evidence to substantiate your claims. This will help you as an employer consequently if the employee files a lawsuit against you for his appointment termination.


Listen to the Employee

Confront the employee and give him/ her a chance to speak. Everyone has a right to a fair hearing including an employee and remember that judgment should not be based on just sight. The employee may have a tangible reason why he/she is disrespectful at work. The employee may have lied to cover up something that can damage the company’s reputation.


Make a Decision

At this juncture, the ball is in your court. Decide the employee’s fate in the company. You may want to fire the employee or give the employee a second chance. If you want to give the employee a second chance; present the employee with a course of action and also encourage the employee to see a counselor. Sometimes, employees react negatively at work due to a family problem they are facing; you can give the employee some time off to settle the personal issue he/ she is experiencing.


Formulate a Disciplinary Action

Disciplinary action is a penalty a manager issues to employees for bridging the organizational code of conduct. This is very paramount; it will make employees to be disciplined at work. There are different kinds of disciplinary actions to take at a workplace, and they are:

  • Progressive Discipline: This is a second chance disciplinary measure. It can be a verbal warning, probation, suspension, and final warning. This kind of discipline is issued to employees that are given a second chance to improve. Lack of improvement by the employee can lead to termination.
  • Performance Improvement Plans: This is the last chance given to employees to improve their performance or get fired at work. This usually precedes a termination letter.
  • Reassignment or Suspension: If the offense is very severe, an employee may be reassigned to a particular role or suspended for a set period. Once the offense is so gross, the employee will be terminated.


Communicate the Disciplinary Measures to Employees

Describe the consequences of disrespectful behaviors to employees and how they can lose their job if they don’t adhere to the policy. You can give a hardworking employee a second chance to being disrespectful at work. Inform the employee that you will be assessing him or her from time to time at work.


Follow-up the Disrespectful Employee

If you forgive an employee for being disrespectful; keep a close watch on the employee to see if the employee has improved. Track the employee’s every course of action and follow the employee up to ascertain if there is an improvement in his/ her attitude. If there is no improvement, the next line of action to take may be to fire the employee.


Show a Consistent Reaction

React to every form of disrespect in the same way. Do not forgive a particular coworker for being disrespectful and then punish another coworker for being disrespectful. Let your reaction be fair and similar to every coworker. Reacting differently to coworkers’ disrespectful behavior may pass a negative impression on your coworkers. As a manager, discipline yourself not to exhibit any form of disrespectful attitude: be an example to your coworkers.


Analyze and Check-in other Employees

Disrespectful behavior is highly toxic and can spread rapidly in an organization like cancer. Do not wait until you envisage disrespectful behaviors among other coworkers; once you have caught an employee in the act then analyze other coworkers too.

In addition, as a manager, you may not be the only one facing disrespectful behavior, but your employees may experience such too. Give them a chance to air out their challenges at work and give them the appropriate feedback.


In conclusion, disrespectful behaviors are a menace that every employer should avoid. No matter the qualified employees you have; your organization can never be successful if your workplace is toxic. Do not tolerate disrespectful behavior but discipline coworkers that exhibit such to have a stable work environment. Use a good manager approach to run your company smoothly. Follow the tips accentuated above to deal with disrespectful employees.


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