Shifting from Dysfunctional Behaviour / Personality Clash to High Performance

dysfunctional behaviour toxic personalities seek first ltd

Dysfunctional behaviour or a personality clash between colleagues has over the years been a consistent part of our work. Whether it be a group, a team or just a relationship breakdown between two colleagues.

The process by which we get involved is largely the same. We get called in usually because a situation has spiralled to such an extent that an intervention is desperately needed.

Sadly, we keep coming across situations where the in-house specialists adopt a completely well-intentioned but massively misguided approach. Their approach results in the issue becoming more embedded and therefore more challenging to turn around.

A large part of the reason for the misguidedness of the failed in-house approach is the insistence on focusing on the problem. The problem is the toxic behaviour of the individuals that result in low performance, it is not the individuals. The in-house teams we inherit these situations from will not define the outcome and insist on defining the problem. Perhaps, they fear repercussions and so we end up with so many elephants in the room, finding the starting point is a major challenge.

A person is not their behaviour.

When dealing with a dysfunctional relationship or a personality clash, the dysfunction is the behaviour not the people involved. It is perfectly legitimate to separate a person from their behaviour. In fact, if you define a person by their behaviour you end up in all sorts of mess.

Being objective and labelling the behaviours as dysfunctional you can focus minds on how to adopt different behaviours. All to often when people are involved in a dysfunctional dynamic or a personality clash they see each ‘other’ as the problem. Organisational leaders shy away from identifying any individual as the problem. We would say that each person’s behaviour has contributed to the state of the relationship. It is easier to change a person’s behaviour than change the person.

To put it in behavioural terms, if a relationship has entered a negative spiral then all parties to the relationship are in negative rapport. In other words all the parties are all behaving a manner that is creating a lose/lose scenario. Just as rapport is the basis of trust and understanding the reverse is also true. You’ve got to focus on behaviours to resolve dysfunctional dynamics.

The three usual suspects of Toxic Behaviour or a Relationship Breakdown!

By choosing to focus on identifying the problem we see the three usual suspects make their appearance.

Someone, Anyone, No-one

I mean, come on, why would anyone in their right mind own up to causing a dysfunctional dynamic? So, everything then has to be re-defined so that the players can then feel comfortable in knowing that they are not being the problem. The only problem with this is…if no-one is being the problem or contributing to the problem how is there such a massive amount of dysfunctional behaviour that we’re called in to resolve? Hmmm? Sounds like someone somewhere, not sure who, it could be anyone, I’m sure it’s not no-one, is causing a lot of toxic performance somewhere!

If your focus is identifying the problem you miss the massive opportunity of achieving the positive outcome you want.

It is really simple…start setting out the outcome you will move towards and have everyone commit to focus 100% on achieving that outcome. You may lose some along the way…trust me you will not regret their leaving, it may well be a cause of celebration!

Let the fun begin!

dealing with toxic behaviour with seek first ltd

Measuring & Defining toxic behaviour is contributing to the Problem.

Personality clashes & Dysfunctional Behaviour cannot be measured – so STOP DOING IT!

Ok, lets start as we mean to go on. There is an extremely simple rule of thumb that I employ and it is the opposite of identifying and measuring dysfunctional behaviour.

My approach is built upon the work of a few giants in the field of human behaviour. I claim zero credit in anything I’m going to set out here, this is not original. It is out there for anyone that has any interest to go and figure. It takes a bit of time and lots of personal learning and discovery, and since we are learning beings that is what we do naturally.

The perils of measuring…

Before I get into my simple approach, I remember a couple of years ago watching a documentary on the TV called, How long is a piece of string?’ This was presented by a leading Mathematics Professor, Marcus Du Sautoy. I’m guessing he probably knows a lot about measuring stuff.

Anyway, the answer was it is impossible to answer as it depends entirely upon how you measure the string. Some folk just look at the basic length of the string, say about 32inches. No need for sophisticated measuring devices. However, you could use lots of different ways to identify the precise number of decimal places behind the decimal point. Alternatively, you can de-construct the string down into all the component pieces of string. It turns out, a piece of string is made up of lots of pieces of string. So, are you measuring one piece or all the pieces? Additionally, each piece, when looked at under a microscope, is made up of lots more pieces of string! Do we measure these pieces also?

Aren’t you exhausted yet? It was after all a very simple question!

Patterns not Specifics!

This is what we are dealing with here when it comes to resolving dysfunctional / toxic behaviour in the workplace. The more you look at the behaviours of a low performing team or a personality clash to identify the actual problem, you are breaking a piece of string down under a microscope. You will end up with a piece of string long enough to tie yourself up in lots of knots! Even though you only started with a piece of string that was roughly 32 inches long! Well done, you did some great magic there!

The key is all about how you choose to measure what you’re observing. Some people, typical of those that have tended to resist getting outside help sooner, appear to insist on measuring and defining everything specifically. The process of measuring requires definitions to be created. In the defining of specific behaviours, we create exemptions. This is how we end up tying ourselves up in knots.

Therefore, my approach uses a very simple principle or pattern. This is the pattern that all the giants of human behaviour have identified. I use patterns of behaviours and I never measure specifics! There is only one pattern that works.

There are two types of behaviour, that’s right just two!

Are you PROACTIVE or REACTIVE

Proactive or Reactive behaviour with Seek First Ltd

You can be PROACTIVE in your behaviour or you can be REACTIVE.

Choosing to be PROACTIVE means you and will achieve your positive outcomes. This will impact positively on those around.

Choosing to be REACTIVE means you will achieve a negative outcome and those around you will experience a negative outcome. Reactive choices lead to dysfunctional behaviour, or in other words, TOXIC behaviour.

Understanding behaviours in the context of PROACTIVE or REACTIVE requires an appreciation of individual perception. We all filter differently and we generalise (i.e. create rules) to govern our lives.

Using tools to develop an understanding of different behaviours is a crucial step in this process. Tools such as the C-me Colour Profile can save a huge amount of time and money. A C-me Profile can create awareness of what is proactive and what is reactive. This profile also helps develop a positive appreciation of your colleagues that re-inforces a proactive high performing dynamic.

If you are struggling with a dysfunctional dynamic within your teams or a personality clash give us a call or drop us an email.  We can help, we can save you a lot of money.  If someone chooses to leave as a result of the dysfunction, you have a hefty recruitment cost to meet.  You also have the consequence of not addressing the dysfunction, you’re racking up a great deal of dissatisfaction and potential high turnover of staff!

Be Proactive…contact Seek First Ltd to understand how we can help.