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How Does Behavior Affect Work Performance?

  Reviewed by: Jayne Thompson, LLB, LLM
  Written by: Ruth Mayhew      Updated November 28, 2018
Portrait of young woman with glasses in office

Everybody has their ups and downs, but behavior can affect an employee's job performance and it can be difficult to determine whether an employee's good day actually means she will perform well or whether a bad day means her level of performance will drop. The key for supervisors and managers is to learn which employees are more subject to behavioral fluctuations that affect their performance in the workplace, and which employees seem to be able to manage regardless of how they are feeling.

Aloofness Can Mean High Performance

Employees who sequester themselves from co-workers or who simply want to work individually instead of being part of a team may actually perform their jobs exceptionally well. Introverts and people who prefer solitude often are described as aloof. An employee's preference to work alone may, in fact, mean that she prefers to rely on her own skills and capabilities instead of depending on others. This single-minded approach to job duties and tasks could be that employee's way of focusing on what it takes to produce an excellent work product. In a team-centered work environment, the aloof employee might be difficult to supervise and her work may suffer. But if her manager understands her particular work style, the organization might benefit from a dedicated and fastidious employee who prefers to work independently, instead of being part of a team.

Two Sides to Gregarious Employees

When an employee is the life of the party, he might be a good fit for any work group because of his ability to blend into any environment and bring enthusiasm to an otherwise dull or unmotivated team. That said, the most gregarious team member might not be entirely focused on the job tasks. He might be more focused on cultivating working relationships that have little to do with a team-centered project. His energies might be misguided, which require the other team members to pick up the slack or try to corral him into doing his part of the assigned work instead of allowing him to be more focused on whether everybody is getting along. On the other hand, a team member who is focused on the assigned work and on developing collaborative working relationships can inspire the team to complete its projects in a manner that impresses the manager and creates a cohesive and engaged team, which in the end benefits the organization.

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Organization and Lack of It

Organization, or lack of it, has a big effect on work. Though everyone knows the person who can easily put their hand on exactly what they need in spite of their hideously messy work space, this is not the norm. Most people who are very disorganized have a tough time meeting deadlines because they spend so much time hunting for what they need. They're late to meetings and show up unprepared. They hold up project completion by failing to contribute their part to a group project because the pieces they need are buried somewhere in their office. On the other hand, someone who exhibits organized behavior shows others the value of keeping a tidy work space and, without criticizing anyone, encourages others to follow her lead.

Bullying Behavior Creates Doubts

A domineering attitude causes consistent boorish behavior that creates problems for all. This person believes he knows best how to do everything, and happily puts himself in charge of group work. He checks up on coworkers activities, overruling anything that deviates from the way he would do it. "It's his way or the highway" is how others describe working with him. Domineering behavior in employees causes friction between team members. It can make some doubt their own abilities and passively give in to the bully's ideas. Coworkers may stop suggesting ideas because they always get overruled. Or, they may challenge the domineering one, causing drama that makes it difficult to work efficiently.

Office Gossip Eats up Time

Gossipy behavior is a two-fold problem. It pits people against each other as rumors spread and are believed or fought, with coworkers taking sides and often ostracizing the subject of the gossip. It's also a huge waste of everyone's time. While it's healthy for workers to spend some time talking about non-work issues, talking about each other creates hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Discourage gossip, which is nearly always negative, in favor of spending time building each other up to accomplish work goals.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

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