10 Ways Disruption in the Workplace Turns into Dysfunction

Disruption is one of those buzzwords that suddenly started turning up everywhere. In its positive sense of shutting down the status quo and forcing us to look at our processes and values with fresh eyes, it’s a great concept to incorporate into any workplace. But when disruption creates chaos and low morale among your team, it’s taken a wrong turn.

As a business consultant and executive leadership coach, I’ve seen the havoc that dysfunction can leave in its wake. If you see any of these behaviors creeping into your organization, treat them like an invasive species and do whatever it takes to wipe them out before they do lasting damage. Your team and your organization—and you—deserve better.

Disrespect. You can’t force a person to show respect, but you can refuse to have an organization where people are disrespectful. Never allow anyone on your team to yell, scream, insult, mock, or cross other personal boundaries.

Gossip. Nothing turns co-workers against each other faster than gossip. It’s one of the most destructive negative forces in any team, and it’s up to you to set a clear example to your team that it’s not acceptable.

Undermining. When teammates start working against each other, your entire enterprise will suffer. Make sure your policies for things like raises and promotion don’t inadvertently pit people against each other.

Negativity. Even one relentlessly negative person can pull down an entire team. Create a culture so overwhelmingly positive that there’s no room for negativity.

Mistrust. Trust is the core of every great team. Treat it with the care and respect it deserves and never allow mistrust to take hold.

Defensiveness. When people act defensive, it’s often a sign that they feel unsafe. Ask yourself—and your team—what’s going on to make people feel that way.

Unaccountability. When you fail to hold people accountable, you fail to make them responsible. Build accountability into every position and project on your team so it’s not considered optional.

Unproductivity. Getting things done is what being a team member is all about. When you have solid accountability in place, there won’t be any room for unproductivity.

Deflection. If your people are unwilling to take responsibility for their mistakes and blame others, make sure you’re being sufficiently supportive of failure. When people feel secure in taking risks, there’s no need for them to blame others.

Betrayal. An extreme form of dysfunction—if people on your team are experiencing betrayal, you have a lot of work to do.

If any of these disruptions are happening in your organization more than occasionally, it’s likely a problem rooted in the culture. And because culture tends to happen from the top down, look inside your heart and ask yourself where you aren’t setting the example you’d like.

Lead from within: If you want an organization where disruption doesn’t become dysfunction, you need healthy habits—and they must start from the top. Lead by example and let others know what is tolerated and what needs to be eliminated.


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The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Runhild

    12. Nov, 2018

    You are right on all points!

    Reply to this comment

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