Dealing with insubordination is something that you might run into as a frontline supervisor, manager, or even as an executive. We're going to look at what it insubordination, and what should you do about it when you do encounter it? Insubordination can be defined really, in two different ways. Number one is it can be a work refusal, that is, you ask me to do something as the boss, and I either don't do it, or and by the way, I could refuse to your face. In other words, there's no way in heck I'm going to go ahead and do that. That's obviously blatant Insubordination.
Then there's also the person just doesn't do what you've asked them to do, but they don't tell they're not going to do it, they just don't do it. Finally, third would be that they take an extraordinarily unreasonable amount of time to do what you've asked them to do.
That would be actually not doing something that you've assigned to a person. That is insubordination. The second type of insubordination though, isn't so much a work refusal, it's the disrespectful conduct. If you have an employee that tells their boss to go to heck or worse, curses and swears, is disrespectful to the leader, that is also insubordination. If that happens, a couple things need to happen.
First of all, if you as a leader just put up with it or condone it, it's probably going to get worse and worse over time, so you're going to have to actually step up and be very direct to the person and say, "I've asked you, or I've assigned you a work task," or, "when you speak to me like that, that is insubordination. That is unacceptable conduct. You have a choice right now. You can apologize, you can reform your behavior, or this is going to become a disciplinary situation." Leaders do not have to put up with that kind of conduct from their teams.
On the flip side of that, I just want to be direct with you. You as a leader have to watch that you're not being overly disrespectful or almost insubordinate to your people. Technically that's not insubordination, but it is just good leadership behavior to make sure that you're not using profane language or being disrespectful to your team. If you set a high standard in terms of your own conduct, if your team then treats you that way, you can then talk to them about that being insubordination. The problem if you never say anything about insubordinate behavior, is it starts to set the standard in your team, and different people will just not do what you've asked them to do, and then what you'll do is you'll take that job assignment and give it to somebody else who's more cooperative.
Meanwhile, that person says, "See, I don't have to do the same work as other people." Insubordination is not something you want to tolerate as a leader, and of course, like any disciplinary situation, you're going to need to go and talk to human resources to get them on side, or to your manager. And again, if they just say, "Oh maybe that's just the person being themselves," just say, "Hey, I'm just sick of that, I'm sick of that behavior. It needs to change. I want to confront it. I want to correct, and I want to change it." Remember, your job as a leader is not to be a chief punisher. Your job is to correct behaviors, to get people to meet your expectations.
If possible, don't go accusational, don't start yelling and screaming at the person, stay calm, because you're talking to them about their behavior. You want to make sure your behavior is setting the standard, so stay calm, discuss it with them, say, "Hey I can't have you refuse to do the work that I've assigned you. I can't have you talk to me or others disrespectfully, so what I need you to do is to be the great employee I know you can be, and meet the expectations from a behavior standpoint."
By dealing with insubordination it's just one of the challenges you can run into as a leader, and or course, if we can be of any assistance on site doing one of our leadership workshops, or maybe having you subscribe to our online learning library or video subscription service, or just buying some of our books for your frontline team, you can do that on our website at frontlineleadership.com, and if you want to join in with other like-minded supervisors, managers, and executives, you could sign up on our Facebook page, which is Frontline Leader.