Taming Disruptive Behavior

June 26, 2013

Marty Martin, a former Hopkins guy (I think we only briefly overlapped our tenures there), wrote a nice little piece entitled, Taming Disruptive Behavior for the AGProfessional website.  As you can see the concepts we talk about regarding disruptive behavior and disruptive professionals applies as much to agricultural professionals as it does to healthcare, legal or other “white collar” professionals.

Webinar with Employment Attorney, Laura Rubenstein

July 19, 2012

Though I’ve presented many topics to many audiences over the years, I just put on my first webinar earlier this week. Together with employment lawyer, Laura Rubenstein, we delivered a well-attended webinar entitled, “Dealing with the Disruptive Professional: An Alternative to Termination.”

You can access an archive of the slides and/or the video of the presentation.  Take a look.

Getting Fired for Disruptive Behavior

April 27, 2012

Here is a Pennsylvania case in which a woman was fired from her job and denied unemployment insurance payments after being accused of engaging in disruptive behavior at work.  What I found interesting about this case was how low the threshold for termination was.  The employee didn’t physically hit or threaten anyone; she was just very disruptive and not professional.

Times are changing.  Well, perhaps I should say times have been changing.  What used to be tolerated, ignored or otherwise swept under the carpet is now being addressed head-on.  (This is not a bad thing!).  We all need to be more keenly aware of how we conduct ourselves at work, how we interact with people, how we treat our customers and colleagues, etc.  Businesses recognize that rudeness is not just unpleasant but it’s bad for the bottom line, and as such, it will not be permitted at work.

Changing definitions

November 23, 2011

On November 9, 2011, the Joint Commission announced that they will be changing the definition of the term “disruptive behavior.”  Specifically, they have noted that disruptive behavior is “behavior or behaviors that undermine a culture of safety.”  They added that term is not viewed favorably by some and that many find it to be ambiguous.  Though I surely agree with this, I do not foresee an large, wide-reaching entity such as the Joint Commission being able to define a very complex range of behaviors in a way that covers all it needs to cover without going too far.  When I give talks about disruptive behavior and workplace violence I often suggest that (unfortunately) the classification of one’s behavior as being disruptive “lies in the eyes of the beholder.”  There’s no way the Joint Commission (or even a hospital, small practice or company) could get away with that.

Recognizing and Confronting Workplace Bullying

November 11, 2011

A few years back I was on an Maryland Psychological Association task force committee that worked in partnership with the American Psychological Association to identify and acknowledge organizations that promote conditions of psychologically healthy workplaces.  The Psychologically Healthy Workplace Program has a nice newsletter that runs articles that should be of great interest to companies and work organizations interested in improving the mental health, physical health, performance and productivity of their employees.

In a recent newsletter, there was an article about workplace violence – – an area of great interest to me.  What I liked about this article was that they gave nice, concrete tips on how to handle situations that might occur in your workplace, and they offered various strategies about how the organization could respond to (and hopefully even prevent) such situations.   The article presented ideas that are close in line with what I’ve been recommending to companies for years during my consultations following these events.

Detox Your Workplace

October 3, 2011

Most of the consulting and clinical work I do regarding disruptive behavior centers around the disruptive individual.  Though I often make recommendations to the organization about the systemic issues that might be contributing to the acting out of a professional within the system, I usually tend to work with individuals far more often than working with the organization.

I came across a nice article about an organizational approach to understanding and “detoxing” a work setting.  The authors explain the significant detrimental effects of disruptive (or toxic) behavior in the workplace and a systemic approach to understanding the dynamics of the organization.

What does “zero tolerance” really mean?

April 8, 2011

We’ve all heard about so-called “zero-tolerance” policies.  They sound great and seem like they make a lot of sense, but if you think about it, can you really apply such concrete decision making to dealing with human behavior?

In this Washington Post article some “myths” about zero-tolerance policies are exposed.  This article was written primarily about the application of such policies in the school setting, I think it touched on many common themes that I deal with when consulting to work organizations.  Probably the main point I try to bring home when speaking with a policy maker (or policy implementer) is that “zero-tolerance” does not mean “termination.”  It simply means that the organization will not tolerate the identified behavior and it will take some sort of action against the employee, perhaps including risk assessment evaluation, discipline, education, demotion, etc.  Of course termination is still an option in these cases, but it is not the only option.

Disruptive Students

February 9, 2011

I just read an newspaper article from California State Fullerton that I thought was great.  A group of students, concerned about disruptive and violent behavior among their peers, formed what is essentially a risk assessment team designed to address disruptive behavior of fellow students.  Though it may not be unique, this is the first time I have heard about a college campus dealing with students’ disruptive behavior in this manner.   This is very similar to the workplace violence risk assessment model I frequently present about.  Just last week I presented to the Chesapeake Chapter of EAPA about this and about a half year ago I presented to the Chesapeake Chapter of SHRM.

HR’s Role In Managing Disruptive Key Employees

January 31, 2011

I recently stumbled upon this interesting blog post about how HR professionals can assist managemnet in dealing with employees’ disruptive behaviors.  What I like about this article is that it discusses a relatively broad range of disruptive behavior and it isn’t just about medical professionals, which is most of what I tend to read about.  The article describes coaching well and approaches a distinction from psychotherapy.

Individual Therapy & Counseling

Through individual psychotherapy, I can help you improve your relationships with others in your life, stabilize your moods and cope with anxieties and worries.

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If you and your partner are struggling to communicate with each other, having problems with romance and intimacy or even dealing with an affair, by engaging in couples therapy I can help the two of you refocus yourselves back onto improving your relationship.

Why Dr. Heitt?

I bring decades of experience working in a variety of settings and with a variety of people to my clinical practice. In addition to doing therapy with couples and individuals, I specialize in helping people like you deal with work-related problems.