Defining self-defeating work behaviours

Research Briefing

Keywords: self-defeating work behaviours, emotion regulation, self-regulation failure, habits

Managers and leaders usually assume that people will work and behave with their own self-interests in mind and will tend to act in a rational way, especially in terms furthering their own interests or desires.

However, people can and frequently do behave and act in ways that undermine their own interests and harm their own work performance, work relationships, their relationship with their employers and even their health.

A raft of research since the 1980s has identified a set of behaviours that are essentially self-handicapping and impair a person’s ability to achieve their goals, damage relationships, cause poor decision-making and generally harm their own outcomes. There is good evidence that self-defeating work behaviours are more common than one might expect.

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