Dealing with Disruptive Behavior

Dealing with Disruptive Behavior: Consultation, Advice and Processes

The University of Michigan is committed to maintain an environment that is safe and free from violence, including threatening behavior. To mitigate disruption in the workplace, this type of behavior needs to be addressed. The University Human Resources Behavioral Consultation Team (BCT) provides consultation, advice, and process review for addressing extreme or chronic conduct or behavior by faculty and staff.

The Behavioral Consultation Team is comprised of senior staff from Staff Human Resources, Academic Human Resources, the Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office, the Faculty and Staff Counseling and Consultation Office (FASCCO), and others as needed. Supervisors and departments seeking guidance on how to address behaviors such as verbal abuse, bullying, overly disruptive, persistent, degrading or demeaning interactions should contact their Unit/Central HR Representative for referral. The team will review the circumstances and suggest options, provide referral information to additional resources, personnel and policies, or suggest intervention strategies.

In the event of an imminent threat to safety, contact the department of public safety by calling 911

Descriptions of Disruptive, Threatening or Extreme Behavior

University Human Resources has developed the following lists of behaviors and conduct that are considered disruptive, disorderly or inappropriate for the workplace. Advice on how to address these behaviors can be provided by contacting your unit’s HR representative or Staff or Academic Human Resources. If an employment action, such as discipline or suspension, may be a possibility, you are advised to consult with your HR representative.

Examples of Disruptive Behavior/Conduct

  • Easily angered/upset
  • Openly argumentative and oppositional
  • Behaves in an intimidating manner/bullying, blatantly refusing to follow university policies
  • Frequently criticizes/blames coworkers
  • Creates conflict between coworkers
  • Makes direct threats of bodily harm to coworkers or harm to their property (If threat of violence is imminent, call 911 immediately)
  • Profanity/offensive language
  • Appears to be impaired in physical or psychological state

Violations of University Policy

  • Threatening, attempting or doing bodily harm to another person
  • Threatening, intimidating, interfering with, or using abusive language toward others
  • Use of alcohol or illegal drugs on the job
  • Reporting to work under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Unauthorized possession of weapons in the workplace (call 911 immediately)

Other Behavioral Issues

  • Seems dramatically withdrawn/depressed—particularly if this is a change.
  • Loss of memory/inability to concentrate
  • Has mouth odor that smells like alcohol
  • Expresses suicidal/homicidal thoughts/ideation
  • Failure to exercise good judgment, or being discourteous in dealing with others

When should you consult the Behavioral Consultation Team?

Consult this chart illustrating suggested process steps

Step 1. Observe the behavior.

Is safety a concern?

  • Yes? Call 911.
  • No? The supervisor should attempt to address the issue. If the supervisor’s attempt to correct the problem is unsuccessful, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2. Engage Unit HR to address the problem.

Unit HR will consult with the supervisor and department to assess and address the behavior. If the issue continues to be unresolved, the supervisor and/or Unit HR representative should proceed to Step 3.

Step 3. Engage University Human Resources to address the problem.

UHR will consult with the supervisor/department and Unit HR to assess and address the behavior. If the issue continues to be unresolved, University Human Resources requests a Behavioral Consultation, Step 4.

Step 4. Behavioral Consultation Team provides guidance to unit.

The Behavioral Consultation Team will review the circumstances with the unit and suggest options, provide referral information, offer guidance on policy and recommend interventions.

Recommended Resources

Download a PDF of the Help for Distressed or Disruptive Individuals guide 

Visit Mental Health Counseling and Consultation Services for information and resources for faculty and staff