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4 Self-Sabotaging Employee Behaviors

Posted by: on July 26, 2017 in employee relations Human Resources


As an employer, you want all of your employees to be successful. Through training, yearly reviews, and support, many employees grow and flourish. But sometimes you might find that an employee isn’t measuring up as well as the others, and not because they are incompetent. Self-sabotage is an unconscious behavior, so it’s difficult for someone to identify it on their own. It is much more easy and convenient to place the blame on other coworkers, a boss that’s demanding too much, or a supervisor that just doesn’t understand.

It’s not easy to identify whether an issue is due to bad management or employee faults, but with some attention and discussion, or even some HR outsourcing assistance you can get to the root of the problem. Here are four common self-sabotaging employee behaviors that can be addressed and resolved with relative ease.

  1. The employee seems isolated. There is a delicate balance between being social and being productive at work. When a project is especially stressful, an employee may isolate themselves from coworkers in order to concentrate. However, an employee who makes this behavior a habit might be doing more than just trying to focus on their work. If you notice that they are distancing themselves from the rest of the team on a regular basis, it may be a good topic to discuss with them and offer support and solutions that help them be productive while still remaining part of the team.

  2. There’s a pattern of unreliable attendance. Showing up late, leaving early, taking extra time on breaks, calling in sick once a week, or even not showing up at all. Regardless of whether or not they are still being productive, this type of behavior is a strong indicator that an employee is disengaging with the company. It may be that they don’t feel appreciated, they feel expendable and therefore it’s just “not worth it” to put forth much effort, or there could be underlying problems outside of work. Whatever the underlying issue is, simply asking if they’re okay and giving them a chance to open up can help get to the root of the problem and help them feel more appreciated.

  3. They focus on the “I” and not the “we.” An easy way to identify a self-sabotaging employee is when an overwhelming amount of emphasis is put on the “I” in their conversations with supervisors, coworkers, and even clients. While this mindset doesn’t necessarily mean anything negative, it could potentially be problematic in a work environment. In this case you may not want to bring anything up to the employee in question, but instead you might concentrate on offering team-building exercises and activities that include them.

  4. They take on too much control of their responsibilities. Another self-sabotaging behavior of an employee is taking on too much responsibility and not delegating or cross-training with their team. While the employee may think they are making themselves indispensable to the company, this behavior can also be very isolating and leaves less room for them to grow, as they are burdened with too many little details. In this case it would be helpful to emphasize the need for delegation as part of any growth plan.

  5. Self-sabotaging behavior does not always equate to an employee being problematic, and can be addressed through avenues that motivate the employee or disrupt the pattern, as well as providing solutions to rid the employee of their bad habits. Whether by setting realistic and achievable goals, offering them a challenge to help with growth, or even regular meetings with a coach or mentor, an employer can help motivate the employee to find a way to realize success without being in the way of themselves.

    Emplicity understands that HR Outsourcing should be simple and meaningful. As a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), we strive to be a great partner in supporting your business. If you would like to request more information on how we can assist your needs, please reach out to us at 877-476-2339. We are located in California – Orange County, Los Angeles, and the greater Sacramento and San Francisco area.

    NOTICE: Emplicity provides HR advice and recommendations. Information provided by Emplicity is not intended as a substitute for employment law counsel. At no time will Emplicity have the authority or right to make decisions on behalf of their clients.