Recently I’ve been thinking about bad behavior and the role it plays in employee turnover.

Maybe it’s because I’m training a 14 week old puppy that loves nothing more than to chew on my toes when I walk outside in thongs or tear off across the yard with one of my bras that she had grabbed off of the drying rack. Funny, she couldn’t reach that rack a week ago!

Or maybe it’s because I’m more aware of bad behavior in professional settings having just experienced such an incident first hand.

Putting up with bad behavior costs your organization. It decreases morale and productivity within your team and leads to employee turnover.

Why then is it so common for managers and organizations to let bad behavior slide? More on that later.

Recently I resigned from the board of a professional organization due in large part to repeated bad behavior by senior, well respected members of our community – with no consequences for this behavior whatsoever.

I have served this organization as a volunteer for over 4 years. I have delivered major, profitable projects for this organization.

During one such project, I was subjected to a conversation that was inappropriate and bordered on bullying by a board member who is also one of the earliest members of this organization and well respected in the community.

I have recently found out that this person has a history of these types of interactions with other members of our community. Interactions that are designed to make others feel small.

And I thought it was just me!

Complaints were made and nothing was done.

A few months later, while working on this same project the colleague I was working with resigned, leaving me to finish the project alone. Not a problem.

Then I found out that not only had she not done what she had agreed to do by the date she resigned, but she also lied about doing it.

I filed a formal ethics complaint citing our professional code of conduct.

No action was taken.

For weeks after this incident, people called or emailed me saying they had had similar experiences with this person.

Not just me!

Most recently, while still serving on the board myself, I witnessed a fellow board member bullying our President during a board meeting. This behavior was overtly inappropriate at the beginning and turned to more passive/aggressive in nature through the remainder of the 4 hour meeting. Again, this board member is long serving and well respected.

No one stepped in to stop this behavior. The entire Zoom room looked like stunned Mullets.

I finally asked this person to ‘lower his volume both literally and figuratively’ which is when the behavior turned more passive/aggressive.

After that board meeting, I wrote this person an email expressing my concern and frustration about his behavior.

A week later I received a response. All it said was…

“Thanks for your feedback.” It was signed with his name and standard email signature which read, “The Relationship Guy.”


No action was subsequently taken by the board and I resigned.

You might read this sequence of events as petty grievances but consider this.

I have put in A LOT of hours with this organization and supported it financially through membership dues and fees for events.

After this year I will no longer serve in any capacity. I will stop supporting this organization financially and will, in all likelihood, resign when my membership comes due next year.

Our membership has been steadily declining over the last few years. How many of those resignations are due to unreported or unresolved experiences like I had?

When I worked as a recruiter I heard many stories of people leaving their jobs because of bad behaviour on the part of their manager or colleagues.

Sometimes they reported this behavior and nothing was done, sometimes they left without reporting it because they thought it was just them or didn’t want to make waves.

Have you had experiences like this? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

#Bullying #leadership #employeeretention

Note: I know in my home country of Australia behavior is actually spelled behaviour…but I have a lot of American followers so chose to go with the American spelling. 🙂