Managing Bad Behavior, People Problems, and Sticky Situations Like A Pro

In today’s episode, Tersh and Gregg talk about Managing Bad Behavior, People Problems, and Sticky Situations Like A Pro.    

Show Notes

Tersh talks with Gregg Ward, author of The Respectful Leader!

Gregg Ward is the CEO of the Gregg Ward Group, a management consulting, training, and coaching firm that focuses on helping leaders develop their Respectful Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, and Executive Presence skills. For over 25 years, Gregg has worked with Fortune 100 and 500 organizations around the world to inspire respect and leadership, emphasizing the measurable, bottom-line benefits they bring to leaders and their organizations.

After graduating from Boston University and working as a theatre professional around the U.S., Gregg started his career in the 1980s as a specialist trainer for the New York City Police Department. Collaborating with a team of experts, he developed a powerful experiential learning program for police officers based on Live Theatre Training techniques and the performance, improv, and facilitation skills that Gregg was incorporating into his onstage performances. This program was considered a huge success by NYPD’s leadership and was featured in major media including The New York Times and CNN.

Since then, Gregg has developed, delivered, and facilitated thousands of keynote addresses, experiential learning programs, and executive coaching sessions for a wide range of global clients including ADP, Booz Allen Hamilton, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Harley-Davidson, InterContinental Hotels Group, Kaiser Permanente, Kraft Foods, Novartis, Qualcomm, Raytheon, Siemens, the University of California, the US Navy, and Warner Brothers Studios. A former journalist on assignment throughout Europe for BBC Radio, Scotland on Sunday, and other UK media, Gregg is also the author of the best-selling, award-winning business book The Respectful Leader.

In today’s episode, Tersh and Gregg talk about Managing Bad Behavior, People Problems, and Sticky Situations Like A Pro.    


“If you know how people will emotionally react, you have an advantage more valuable than all of humanity’s innovations.”

Thank you for listening to another episode of the Service Business Mastery Podcast!


Managing Bad Behavior, People Problems, and Sticky Situations Like A Pro

Tersh Blissett: [00:00:22] Hello, everyone, out there in the podcast world, everybody, a great day. You’re listening to the Service Business Mastery Podcast. I’m your host, Tersh Blissett. In today’s episode, we have Greg Ward. He’s the management consultant, trainer, and coach Who is On a mission to help leaders Lead Their organizations, develop skills around respectful leadership, Emotional Intelligence, and executive presence.

Tersh Blissett: [00:00:47] What we’re going to Talk about today is respectful leadership, but also managing bad behaviors within the workforce. We’re all challenged. Greg and I were talking just briefly before we started this about in the trades. I find it, but I am biased because I am in the trades. But in the trades, I find that sometimes we It’s the evil, you know, versus the one you don’t the devil you know versus the devil you don’t know. You keep an employee Because you know their Quirks. You know that even though They’re they have bad Behavior.

Tersh Blissett: [00:01:23] So in today’s episode, Greg is going to talk with us today and kind of help us. Figure out the situation and work through that. Welcome to the show, Greg. Thank you very much for having me. So tell us a little bit about yourself, where you are, and what you do.

Gregg Ward: [00:01:41] Sure. I actually grew up around the metro New York area, and my first big job was serving as a trainer for the New York City Police Department. And I come out of college and they wanted to develop a program that was very interactive And teaching Cops how to how to deal with people who are behaving badly in public. And I had some professional acting skills and improvisational skills. So I put together a team of professional actors to play people Who were Behaving inappropriately were Violent or suicidal or High on PCP and things like that. And then we would teach the cops how to manage those people. And instead of just hitting them over the head with a nightstick and taking them, taking them to the loony bin. So that really was the beginning of my work. And I’ve been doing that kind of work with organizations, Teaching them how to manage bad behavior, how to Have good leadership skills, how to develop their emotional intelligence for the last Twenty-five years. And I love what I do and I love getting my hands dirty, working with leaders, and trying to figure Out their everyday Problems with their people.

Tersh Blissett: [00:02:59] That’s really awesome. So maybe, you know, the statistic to be true or false. I think the last time I was up in New York, I was told that the New York PD is like the seventh-largest Military force or SARS Was something massive. I didn’t realize that it was as large as it is.

Gregg Ward: [00:03:17] It is the largest quasi-military force in the United States was Chicago and L.A. a distant second. But NYPD is the largest, I think. Well, certainly when I was with them, there were thirty-three thousand uniformed police officers on the streets of New York City. I actually don’t think are that many of these days, but it’s big. And in a Quasi military kind of organization like That, I mean, you’ve got the whole World working for you, It’s. You know, you’ve got you’ll see the behaviors from A to Z. And if you’re working as a cop, you’re going to see behaviors from A to Z as well. And boy, it’s tough, but I do not envy cops. I have enormous respect for them. And it is a thankless job usually. But on the other hand, if your mission in life is to help People, being a cop is A great, great way to fulfill that mission.

Tersh Blissett: [00:04:14] Yeah, absolutely. We have lots of friends who are officers and they see my kids play soccer and a lot of the parents on the team are officers. And we talk about stuff. Man, that’s I envy that at all.

Gregg Ward: [00:04:28] No, no, Not not for me. It’s just too stressful. And, you know, you can lose your life. I mean, you’re putting your life on the line every day, even if you’re trying to help somebody who’s not trying to hurt you in a car accident or something like that. How many times have we seen state troopers pull somebody over and then get hit by another car? I mean, it’s just it is a dangerous, dangerous job of the the The times I went On ride along with NYPD, my eyes were open really big. But they let me I did some training as an auxiliary cop. I know that was a junior cop kind of thing. And I got to interact with the public and help people, like, just basically give people directions or say, hey, you don’t want to go down there. We need you to stay away from here and people would thank me and stuff like that. So that was kind of cool. But now the main part of the job, not for me,

Tersh Blissett: [00:05:24] I can only imagine. And that’s for sure. I mean, and I’ve been a visitor in New York and being an officer in New York, I don’t know. And not only the the danger portion of it, the stress of the traffic. If I had that I was running code and I had to get stuck in the traffic, I wasn’t bold. I would be bold, but I can’t stand traffic well. 

Gregg Ward: [00:05:47] And remember, I was working for them back in the 1980s when the city was broke. They were crack Wars. It was a bad, bad place to live. And there was corruption in the police department. I mean, you never knew I was just crazy. Crazy time. Crazy.

Tersh Blissett: [00:06:03] Well, yeah, you survived.

Gregg Ward: [00:06:05] I did. Now I Live. Now I live in San Diego and I’m loving it.

Tersh Blissett: [00:06:12] So managing bad behavior, that’s what we’re going to talk about today. So what Can you just Define bad behavior? Like what? What do we like? I get annoyed by things, but it might not necessarily be a bad behavior. Right?

Gregg Ward: [00:06:25] Right. Generally, it’s behavior that a reasonable person. I would say is unprofessional and I’m going to talk about it from the point of view of service providers, generally you you and run an HVAC HVAC company, right? So if your staff walks in dirty clothes, shirts, hanging out, chewing gum and using foul Language, I’m pretty Sure you would not be happy with them. You consider that bad behavior? Absolutely.

Tersh Blissett: [00:06:58] That’s right. And it’s clearly defined in the employee handbook, like the rules and procedures.

Gregg Ward: [00:07:03] Exactly. Exactly. So you have an expectation of them to behave in what you would consider to be a professional manner.

Tersh Blissett: [00:07:10] Mm hmm.

Gregg Ward: [00:07:11] So that’s a lot of what we talk about when we talk about bad behavior. It’s just that kind Of people Being themselves in a way that makes others uncomfortable. The last thing we want in the service industry is to make our customers uncomfortable. But we want them to trust us. We want them to believe that we can help them with their problem and do it in a way that’s quick and efficient and reasonably cost-effective. I mean, that’s basically it. So if you’re sending off any kind of signals that you’re less than professional, all of a sudden your customers are no longer trusting you. I call it the trust gap. Any unprofessional behavior, even if you’re you’re in a You’re Working with a partner out in the field who you don’t like working with, and you start getting into this back and forth tit for tat little commentary stuff and you got a customer overhearing that. That’s not cool. You know, it’s the customer who is going to go, what is up with these guys? You know, so that’s the kind of bad behavior that’s very, very common. You know, the worst stuff is when our employees are openly engaging in harassing kind of behavior, sexual harassment, that kind of thing, or threatening violence or that kind of stuff, which doesn’t happen, doesn’t happen as much as it used to happen. But it still happens. And we as business owners, boy, do we have to Be really, Really careful about that stuff, because not only could it lose US business, but it could get us in trouble legally and how costly that can be.

Tersh Blissett: [00:08:42] Oh, yeah. And I mean, it’s someone else’s actions could cost us our entire business.

Gregg Ward: [00:08:46] Absolutely. Absolutely.

Tersh Blissett: [00:08:49] This is the case.

Gregg Ward: [00:08:50] I once had a staff member working for me who clearly had issues with alcohol and Would show up At a client site having had some drinks. Right. And at first I thought it was an aberration. I talk to the person and then my other members of staff would say, no, it’s still going on. I had to let the person go because they were great. They were don’t get me wrong, they did a great job. And somehow the I think they they said to me, well, I drank because it makes me loosen up. I’m more Comfortable dealing with our Clients. And I’m like, Ok,

Tersh Blissett: [00:09:30] Catch Twenty two there.

Gregg Ward: [00:09:31] Yeah. No kidding. No kidding. So here was a situation For me where someone Was behaving badly now they weren’t driving while drunk or they weren’t doing that kind of Stuff. But there was always this, this concern, oh man. What are they going to say and is it going to get me in trouble? And even though they were one of the best people I ever Had working for me, had to let them go.

Tersh Blissett: [00:09:53] You know, it’s funny that you mention that and like so we do a lot of Networking and networking events. Something they always, always, always have is Alcohol and food. And so and they do it on purpose so that you’ll loosen up and talk to people. But you bring up A really good point, like you could over indulge And then all of a sudden you’re seeing things that you shouldn’t be saying about people you shouldn’t even Be talking about in General.

Gregg Ward: [00:10:24] And so You’ve or You bring up topics, you Know, Like political stuff or Stuff, you stay away from It. Absolutely. What is it they say? Don’t talk about religion, politics, or sex in a social networking session. And I kind of jokingly say, well, what’s left to talk about. But in reality, I tell my staff and my director of business development, I say, you go to a networking event, please don’t drink. I just don’t do it. Eat as much food as you want. That’s you that’s your diet. But please don’t drink because goodness knows what could be said. And it’s just it’s not worth it. And they agree it’s not a problem.

Tersh Blissett: [00:11:02] And not only that, I mean, not to get off on networking and drinking, but then you’re there for an hour or two hours, three hours. And then for us, we drive away like some people that are Uber. But where we are, It’s not like you don’t walk a block back to the office. We’re ten miles away from most of the time. And you’re going to get in the car, you’re going to get back in the car and drive back to the office or drive home if it’s the end of the day. So it creates some issues for sure, not the run off On that tangent of That, but well,

Gregg Ward: [00:11:35] In general, my advice to business owners is just mindful, have that conversation with your new employee, as you said, the employee handbook, and just have the conversation of I call it the expectations conversation. My expectation is you’re going to behave this way. You’re going to do this. You’re going to do that. And if you don’t, I’m going to call you on it. And I have what I call this two strike rule. I don’t believe in the  they call a zero-tolerance rule. I’ll give you two strikes. You screw up once I’m going to come down on you, I’m going to ring you and I’m going to maybe discipline you, but you screw up the second time in the same way. I’m sorry, we’re done. So I’ll always give you two strikes. But I think zero tolerance is two is too restrictive, is too strict. You could turn somebody round if you do it properly, if they do one strike and they’ll never do it again. But it just to terminate someone based on one incident, it has to be pretty bad. It has to be. 

Tersh Blissett: [00:12:40] Not only that, it brings up to to me it’s like would you be able to do that with every single employee if like so if like are you sure they understood it was a are you sure that was very clear instructions or you one hundred percent positive that they understood this Right at that Point. Yeah. You could probably say they understood, they knew the rules were non-negotiable. You’re fired. But. To me, I like what you said, Where, like, they May do it and then they’re like, that’s not the way I interpreted what you said, this is what I interpreted. And then at that point, you say, OK, well, now you know. So next time it’s final. So that’s right. I like that. That thought process.

Gregg Ward: [00:13:25] Yeah. Just call it the two strike rule. Most people get it. I tell them I said I’m giving you we operate by the two strike rule here. I will explain what I believe you need to how he should behave if you miss it the first time you’re in trouble. Miss It’s second time you’re gone.

Tersh Blissett: [00:13:41] So how Do you Decide on what falls under the two strike rule versus something that is kind of. Yeah, it’s annoying, but I’m not going to fire you over it.

Gregg Ward: [00:13:52] Right. Well. First, I look at what would I fire somebody for sexually harassing a customer with absolutely. Or groping or getting into a fist fight with a customer. You know, sorry. Sorry, you’re gone. Now, of course, we would do our investigation. If my brother is a driver, he’s a delivery driver. He tells me stories about and he he delivers deliver stuff to people’s homes. He said, Greg, I can’t tell you how many times very nice women have come to the door naked. I’m like, you’re kidding me, because it is so embarrassing. It is So uncomfortable. And I have to deliver this thing. And I’m like, brother, I feel free.

Tersh Blissett: [00:14:47] Not only that, there’s probably a camera somewhere hiding your record. Every action you see if you’re actually going to do something that always is the case. But is the first thing that came to my mind Was like, OK, Where is the Candid Camera? I’m being recorded somewhere.

Gregg Ward: [00:15:04] Good, good. That’s a good thing to tell people. And of course, if you do act upon that, that’s a firing thing. And it’s the same men come to the door naked, too. I mean, it’s not just but so that, you know, I look at the things that I absolutely would fire somebody for and then I look at everything else. And I think the divine line we have to be aware of is the legal line. You certainly there might be a civil suit. You and your employee gets into a fistfight with a customer because the customer is not Happy that that Might not be a criminal charge. It might be, but it might not. But you and I both know that getting into a fistfight with a customer is just not good for business, no matter how wrong the customer was. So therefore, I would say I’d have to look at the legality of the behavior point. And this is this a time waster or what? We don’t have time to constantly be adjudicating this stuff, right? Yeah, it’s really difficult.

Tersh Blissett: [00:16:08] We have a list of what we call non negotiable and no stealing is one of them. Gossiping is another. And we define gossiping as if you’re complaining about someone to someone else, Then the Person you’re complaining to has no control over the situation. That’s gossiping. That’s a we have no gossip tolerant. We don’t Tolerate it at All because it Destroys a culture so fast and stealing’s the same way. And so those are two things, integrity first and safety. So if you’re doing something unsafe, then It’s is Technically a firable Offense, because honestly, If you if you fell off of that roof, not only is it like if you Got hurt or Killed, it terribly affects you and your family and everything else, but it also affects all the other families that work with us, Because especially If some sort of civil suit comes out of that situation, if we had to close our doors, then all these other families are going to be gone without help, Too.

Gregg Ward: [00:17:08] So that’s a great way to look at it.

Tersh Blissett: [00:17:10] It’s not just like your your injury that we’re concerned with. We’re concerned about everybody’s injuries and everybody’s families.

Gregg Ward: [00:17:17] So I think The big challenge for all of us is if we’ve got that really good employee there, really, really super good. And they have a few tics and behaviors that are a little outside the norm. A lot of us, as business owners go, well, that person’s responsible for a lot of revenue coming my way. So maybe I’m going to look the other way. And that’s the problem. We can’t look the other way because our other employees know they know what’s going on. When I have that employee Who was drinking all the time, all the other employees knew that They were. And they’re kind Of looking at me. Greg, aren’t you going to do something about this? So it’s like, is there a double standard here? So I always urge my clients to step up, do the right thing, sit the person down. You can talk to them in a very direct way and do it respectfully. You don’t have to ream them out and curse at them and all that kind of stuff. You can handle it very respectfully, but make it clear in no uncertain terms that the behavior has to stop, even if it’s that weird, Ticky. Kind of gray area behavior, you still can talk to them about it, make it clear what your expectation is.

Tersh Blissett: [00:18:20] Gotcha. So whenever you would you say that. That managing that behavior in itself is. I guess I want to make sure that I’m clear on this the best thing to do, first of all, is to if you can foresee it, put it in writing. Yes. If not, if it’s like a one-off thing where you’ve you haven’t experienced it Before, have that conversation with that person and then put it into writing also.

Gregg Ward: [00:18:51] I think that’s a great idea.

Tersh Blissett: [00:18:52] And then after that, Ok, this is your Last strike. You’re fired.

Gregg Ward: [00:18:58] Yep, exactly. I think that’s a great idea. And I call it nipping it in the bud. You want to Nip that bad behavior, even if it’s just a little thing like somebody I don’t know was spitting at outside a customer’s home and they just spat on the ground in front of the customer and somebody noticed it. Just want to say, hey, dude, Dude, don’t Do that again. You realize that people find that offensive. You know, just be aware of that. And if it does happen again, then we’re going to have to move to a much more serious disciplinary action up to and including termination. That phrase is a very powerful phrase and it’s a legal phrase. But I found that my clients and I advise them to use this phrase up to and including termination That puts The fear of God in most people. Most people there are some people are like, screw you, I don’t care, fire me. I’ll find another job elsewhere. And I kind of go, Oh, maybe I don’t want this person working for me after All.

Tersh Blissett: [00:20:01] Absolutely. So sometimes you had that conversation and that conversation brings to light the value that they place on their position anyway. Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. So tell me a little bit about your book. This you have put. 

Gregg Ward: [00:20:15] Sure the book is called The Respectful Leader Seven Ways to Influence Without Intimidation. And it’s based on my work in respect and respect for leadership that I’ve been doing for about twenty years. And I was Really struggling to help people understand how important respect is in good relationships. And I thought, well, you Know, these Days not a lot of people are reading big how to books. You know, people don’t have time to read big books. And I thought, well, what do people like? They’d like stories. So I wrote a story. It’s a short story. It’s in the genre of the business fable. And it’s a short story about a new CEO who was brought in to turn around a company. It’s a Medical device manufacturing company that I it’s a Fictional one that I created based on all my Clients over the past twenty Five years. And he’s his task is to turn this place around. They’re hemorrhaging money And he Discovers there’s a lot of disrespect in this company, a lot of fear, a lot of anger, frustration, because they’re just losing money left, right and center. Their products are failing. There’s a lot of problems. And he first tries to be very command and control. Do as I say. We’re going to turn this place around, but only if you do it my way. Well, that blows up in his face. And people find that also very disrespectful. One of his top people leaves and quits because of it. And slowly over time, with the help of his head of maintenance, is this little old lady named Grace who has been there and done that former Air Force mechanic work on Air Force helicopters. She’s a tough cookie, but she’s Respectful and she basically hits him up the side of the head and says, boss, if you want to turn this Place around, try treating People with Respect.

Gregg Ward: [00:22:03] And over time, he learns kind of the hard way how to turn his company around. It’s a story you can read in, gosh, about an hour and 15 minutes. Most, yeah, it’s real quick. And then The second half of the book is sort of an explanation of the principles and the concepts of respect and Some of the data that’s out there. But mostly I just tried to create a good story. My father was a storyteller. My father was a journalist actually, and I was a journalist for many years. I’m a writer and I just wanted to make a great story about great real people that we could recognize every day. And most people tell me they love the story. And after the end of reading the story, they go, Oh, I actually learned some stuff reading the story.

Tersh Blissett: [00:22:46] So it’s about I really love that thought because that there’s two books that kind of sound not like that, but they’re the business fable type. And I really remember connecting with those because There’s the analytical type Person Minded person and you have Your storytelling type person mindset. And so when you have that business, it’s Like you listen to Or you read a book and it’s like, oh yeah, that’s how that I can make that work in my business. Yes, I think it was the Five this five dysfunctions of a team.

Tersh Blissett: [00:23:23] Yeah. That was a really good one. Was a millionaire next door. Oh yeah. Yeah. It was one that they did it. Where the told a Story, One 1/2 and then the other half, they explained the process behind.

Gregg Ward: [00:23:34] Yes, there’s there’s another one called the go getter, which I’m sorry, the go giver. And that’s a great one for salespeople because the go giver, the concept behind that one is, look, just give don’t always take just give to your customers and they will appreciate it and they will give to you in the form of their business. But the five dysfunctions of a team literally was kind of my blueprint for my own book. I, I took that whole story and how they laid it out and the characters and the reality of it. And then I just created my own, which kind of followed the similar model.

Tersh Blissett: [00:24:11] But I like It’s, but it really like the little things that you learn in there. You don’t realize that like with the five dysfunctions, like the little things that she Did, I was like, oh, I wouldn’t do that. And then after the fact, if they explain why, I’m like, oh, well, that’s why that was success.

Gregg Ward: [00:24:26] Exactly. And to be honest, to be honest with you, when I actually got the book into the Hands of the Table group, which is the publisher of The Five Dysfunctions, actually the publishers, John Wiley and Sons, which is my publisher, They all said, wow, your Book is just like the five dysfunctions of a team. And I go, Yeah, duh, that was a bottle that really, really works. So why wouldn’t I just recreate the similar model?

Tersh Blissett: [00:24:52] It really does. And even whenever my wife and I read The Millionaire next door, we were like, oh, well, it makes it makes more sense whenever it was put into the story fashion. Right. A portion of it. And people love Stories. They really do.

Gregg Ward: [00:25:06] And that’s how we I mean, who hasn’t been read a story as a child who doesn’t read to their kids stories? This is how we learn. And it’s very powerful Way of getting across. And what’s interesting for me is I keep getting phone calls from people who say, you don’t know me, but I’ve read your book and we really want you to come and lead a workshop on your ideas for us. Yep, just did one back. I was down in Florida last week. I was in Orlando at a at at a an offsite leadership meeting where they had me do a half day workshop for them based on my book. 

Tersh Blissett: [00:25:44] Yeah. I will definitely have it on my list right now to go pick it up. Now is it just in print or.

Gregg Ward: [00:25:50] It’s also audio Book and And also I can send you a PDF if you’d like. That would be awesome for Kindle. I’ll send you one.

Tersh Blissett: [00:25:59] Yes, we appreciate it. So if somebody wants to get in touch with you, what’s the best way for that to happen?

Gregg Ward: [00:26:05] Easiest way to reach me is through my website, It’s. Gregg Ward group dot com and Greg is spelled with two GS at the end. You can also go to I’m the founder and executive director of the Center for Respectful Leadership. And you can also go to that website as well.

Tersh Blissett: [00:26:36] Cool, I will add those to the show so everybody has those links. Greg, I appreciate you coming on and sharing Sharing your A little bit of history about the NYPD also.

Gregg Ward: [00:26:49] Thank you. Thank you is a pleasure.

Tersh Blissett: [00:26:52] Absolutely. And I’m looking forward to your book to and maybe I can have you out in Savannah. That’ll be great. Every night.

Gregg Ward: [00:26:58] I was there a couple of years ago. Love Savannah It’s a memorable town.

Tersh Blissett: [00:27:03] Yeah, yeah. Thank you, man.

Gregg Ward: [00:27:05] Thank you so much.

Tersh Blissett: [00:27:06] All right.

Gregg Ward: [00:27:06] You take care. You too. Bye bye.

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