I was fascinated by an article written by Scott Shane, A professor of economics at Case Western Reserve University and the author of the book, “Born Entrepreneurs, Born Leaders: How Genes Affect Your Work Life.” He wrote, “Genetic factors often interact with environmental influences to affect behavior. So, if you want to alter how people act, you need to know what external factor will trigger a behavioral change.”
In short, genetic factors influence people’s job-related behavior in various ways. Scholarship in this area is in its infancy, with scientists have identified only a small number of genes that affect how you act in the workplace—impacting such disparate dimensions as leadership, job satisfaction, decision making, and entrepreneurship.”
But it is doubtful that genes are the primary driver of bad behavior as a 2015 article in Psychology Today noted: Behavior geneticists concluded that genetics plays a significant role in personality, accounting for about half of the differences in personality test results and even more of the differences in IQ scores. But yet, they found no “warrior genes” that were over-represented among violent criminals.
But it is not like employers can require genetic testing for prospective employees. A 2004 article in the Wall Street Journal reminds us that Congress made it illegal to use genetic information “to make hiring, firing, and other job placement decisions.”
The one thing you can’t do is to ignore the situation.
That might sound like the most effortless approach. Still, it only leads to tension in the workplace, general unhappiness, a department-wide loss in productivity, and eventually causes your star employees to leave.
This is why you need the right skills to deal with these behaviors.
When I’ve faced situations like this, I can’t help but think of being in high school: Trash talking, Cliques, People trying to be popular, Picking on the unpopular.
I hated it in high school, but I couldn’t do anything about it then.
I know that it is all on me in offices that I manage. I am the one that everyone turns to handle difficult employees for the good of everyone.
Leadership makes a difference.
It all starts with communication.
You want to be transparent when you make an assignment. You want to be very clear about your expectations.
Look out for people who talk a good game but don’t deliver.
Watch for those who are selfish rather than have a servant’s focus.
Look for those who are more aware of what the company can do for them rather than how their role benefits the company.
You might find people who are job hunters rather than job happy.
And those who are focused on their success rather than the success of others.
You must be direct with them. Make it clear that bad behavior or work habits won’t be tolerated. And if their attitude doesn’t change, then repercussions will follow. Don’t let that be an idle threat, either.
This post is an excerpt from my online course, “Managing Difficult People.” I’ve looked at the psychology of the different types we see in the workplace and have suggestions on how to deal with each of them – including the most challenging person in your workplace.
Find out more HERE