A key driver of the engagement and wellbeing of employees is the way their leaders deal with inappropriate behaviours.  If you want high levels of pride, commitment and energy you need to create a sense of discipline – clarity about what behaviours are acceptable and unacceptable in your work place.  When we conduct climate surveys for our clients it is amazing how often comments are made by employees saying things like “bad behaviour is not dealt with effectively here”.

Nipping bad behaviour in the bud is important because:

  • It creates an atmosphere of safety for all
  • It creates a sense of pride – we all know what we stand for in this organisation
  • We have known for decades that minor bad behaviours – “Incivility” as it is called in the literature – can lead to more significant problems such as bullying and harassment (Baron and Nueman, 1996).
  • If we tolerate bad behaviours we get less good behaviours (Dalal 2005)

So, this raises a very interesting question.  Are there differences in the degree to which different industries deal with negative behaviours?  The answer is below, and the answer is “yes”.  This is just one one of many findings from a recent research project we conducted (early 2015) with Simon Albrecht and Emil Breidahl from Deakin University.  In this study we had responses from over two and a half thousand Australian employees on a range of questions related to how engaged these employees were with their jobs and the leadership behaviours which affected these levels of engagement.

You will see that Employees’ perception of whether their leaders created clarity about appropriate behaviours varied quite widely from sector to sector, with health services doing the best job of creating this clarity.  This is an interesting finding considering some of the press articles we have seen recently about behaviours of senior medical staff.  The lowest score was for fast moving consumer goods, with local and state government also as the lower end of the scale.

Where does your organisation sit in this scale?


Andrew Marty
Managing Director
SACS Consulting


  • Baron, Robert A, and Neuman, Joel H (1996) Workplace violence and workplace aggression: Evidence on their relative frequency and potential causes, Aggressive Behavior Volume 22, Issue 3, pages 161–173, 1996
  • Dalal, R.S. (2005) A Meta-Analysis of the Relationship Between Organizational Citizenship Behavior and Counterproductive Work Behavior, Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 90, No. 6, 1241–1255



Andrew Marty