The 5 Costly Effects of Insubordination

Left unchecked, insubordination can tear your organization apart from limb to limb.

LB2An insubordinate employee can have significant negative effects on your organization due to his ability to incite dissent among team members and frustrate executives and leaders by under-performing his duties, as well as his willingness to ignore the needs of customers and clients. An employee who fails to follow directives leads to

an inequity in workload distribution and a decline in workplace morale. The latter is particularly damaging to a small organizations because the work of each team member is likely to be crucial to the company’s success and income.

1. Lower Workforce Productivity
An insubordinate employee who disregards or refuses to comply with a leader’s legitimate directives lowers his own productivity, and possibly that of his colleagues. For instance, if an insubordinate employee refuses to meet production deadlines, it may be difficult, if not impossible, for his co-workers to perform their work in a timely fashion. The same is true if the employee is habitually late or if he ignores protocols, or policies and procedures. The lost productivity that can result leads to lost sales or delayed deliveries, and possibly contractual penalties that impact business earnings.

2. Degradation of Morale
The insubordinate employee’s attitude, let alone his lack of productivity, can be troubling to his co-workers. The morale of those left to perform not only their own work, but the work of the insubordinate colleague, suffers greatly. It’s possible that these employees will become frustrated, resentful and angry. Negative emotions such as these are compounded if the employees interpret the continued employment of an insubordinate “team member” as a sign of special treatment.

3. Decline in Reputation
When an employee publicly disrespects a leader, other employees begin to view the leader as ineffective and that reputation can affect his status with team members, board members, and business partners. Consequently, additional employees may begin to exhibit insubordinate behavior, assuming there will be little, if any, repercussions for doing so. In this way, the insubordinate acts of one employee can instigate a chain reaction where other employees adopt a similar disrespectful attitude.

4. Increase in Workplace Stress
The frustration that employees and leaders may experience due to insubordination can lead to stress that interferes with intellectual, interpersonal and emotional well-being says David Lee, the author of “Managing Employee Stress and Safety.” Fellow employees may feel they’re shouldering too much of the team’s burden, and worse that their efforts to compensate for a slacker are unappreciated. Also, managers can become less effective due to their inability to improve the performance of the insubordinate employee. If this occurs, it’s likely the manager’s frustration will be compounded by the recognition that key executives of the organization are aware of his inability to influence the performance of the problem employee.

5. Customer & Client Dissatisfaction
The actions of an insubordinate employee might well have a negative effect on customer relations because a lack of performance can affect product and service quality, the prompt production and delivery of products, and the appropriate follow-up to product or service issues. Customers may feel inconsequential, undervalued or that their needs or requirements are ignored, which can lead to a loss of business and possibly a court action.

Employee insubordination will negatively affect an organization in a number of ways: the workload distribution becomes inequitable, which leads to a decline in workplace morale and a decline in productivity. Should this occur, it’s particularly damaging to a small business because the work of each team member may be crucial to the company’s success and income growth.

Have you experienced or witnessed insubordination in your organization? What happened? What recommendations do you have to deal with an insubordinate team member?

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