5 Examples of Insubordination in the Workplace (With Tips)

Insubordination Examples
  • An employee’s manager instructed her to appear at an in-person meeting to discuss a performance issue. …
  • An employee refused a manager’s instruction to make a payment and adjust a budget, and then wrote an email stating she would no longer report to this supervisor.

Insubordination in the workplace is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. It can lead to a decline in productivity and morale, and create an uncomfortable work environment. As a supervisor or manager it’s important to understand the different ways insubordination can manifest itself in the workplace so that you can intervene and maintain a positive work environment for your staff. In this blog post, we will discuss common examples of insubordination in the workplace and how to effectively manage it. We will also provide some best practices for handling insubordination and fostering a culture of respect and compliance in the workplace.

Insubordination – How to Deal with Insubordination in the workplace

5 insubordination in the workplace examples

Recognizing insubordination can make it simpler for bosses to deal with it in the workplace. They can maintain a favorable, productive environment that fosters improved relationships between employees and their supervisors by resolving these problems. Here are some instances of insubordination at work that you might run into:

1. Refusal to complete a task

As previously stated, an employee exhibits insubordination when they decline to carry out a task that is required of them by their employer and falls under the purview of their position. For instance, a barista’s duties may include clearing the cafe tables at the end of the day. The manager may consider it to be insubordination if they are asked to perform this task and ignore or reject the manager.

Employees can still decline assignments, though, depending on the circumstance. A compromise with their manager might be reached if the barista raised concerns about cleaning the tables or provided explanations for why they couldn’t that day. Similar to that, the barista could decline if the manager asked them to engage in an immoral or illegal activity without being viewed as being disrespectful.

2. Refusal to come into work

Employees typically have to accept certain terms of employment, such as a work schedule, when they begin a job. These regulations establish requirements for the employer to report to work on specific days and at specific times, such as Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. m. to 5 p. m. Insubordination can be demonstrated by a person’s refusal to enter the office during their required or assigned hours.

For instance, if a company notices an employee is running late, they might get in touch with them to find out when they’ll arrive. An unruly person might ignore the call or answer it and inform the employer that they won’t be reporting for duty that day. If the person had a legitimate excuse for missing work, such as a medical emergency or a family emergency, or if they had requested permission beforehand, they probably wouldn’t be viewed as being insubordinate.

3. Refusal to remain at work

Employees consent to report to work during the designated hours during the onboarding process. Disobeying these rules can constitute insubordination. For instance, a disobedient worker’s shift is scheduled to end at 3 p m. but decides to leave at 1 p. m. without notifying their employer or asking for permission. This employee would react negatively or disregard the directive if the employer told them they couldn’t leave. Once more, an employee can avoid being insubordinate by requesting permission from their employers before leaving work early or by providing a justification that the employer deems acceptable.

4. Disrespecting authority figures

Employees who openly disobey authority figures at work can be seen as being disobedient. An employee might, for instance, yell at or insult their managers in order to cause conflict. The manager’s authority may be questioned if they openly disagree or mock their decisions or orders in front of their subordinates. Some workplaces may label less overt acts of disobedience as insubordination, such as when workers roll their eyes at a superior when they give orders or make decisions. Workplaces can establish insubordination standards to specify what conduct is appropriate and acceptable.

5. Sabotaging team or organizational activities

Situations in which someone takes actions intended to weaken or destroy something are referred to as sabotage. These circumstances could occur at work when something is done to undermine a certain project, initiative, or objective. Employee sabotage and insubordination may result from a refusal to complete a task as part of a project. The ability of the entire team to present their final deliverable to the client, for instance, may be impacted if one employee refuses to deliver a report by the specified deadline. The relationship with this client and their reputation could suffer as a result of this failure.

They might also carry out tasks that their manager specifically instructed them not to do because doing so would somehow hurt the project or the team. For instance, a boss might request that a worker maintain the privacy of any project-related information or documents. Employee sabotage and insubordination occur when they refuse to follow instructions and make copies of documents to give to rival businesses. Sabotage compromises the organization’s ability to do its job and could harm its reputation or the reputation of the manager who supervises that employee.

What constitutes insubordination in the workplace?

Insubordination occurs when an individual purposefully disobeys an authority figure. These individuals might be supervisors, managers, or business owners in the workplace. Insubordination requires the employee to have the intention to disobey this person. Insubordination typically includes the following elements:

You can use these elements to assess situations for insubordination. Insubordination doesn’t occur when an employee declines to carry out a task for their manager that is deemed unethical, illegal, or risky. They can also refuse a task that is outside of their clearly defined job responsibilities. Employees frequently concur to particular guidelines or standards when they sign up to work for an organization. Such rules non-compliance can also lead to insubordination Individuals who engage in acts of insubordination may be issued warnings or have their employment terminated, depending on the circumstance.

Tips for resolving conflict at work

The following advice can be used to prevent and end disputes at work:

Identify improper behaviors

It’s crucial to recognize and deal with significant insubordinate behaviors in the workplace when they happen. By doing this, you make it clear to workers or coworkers what appropriate behavior is expected of them. For instance, if you believe a worker has disregarded your request, you can raise the matter with them to find out if they did so on purpose or because they misunderstood your instructions. Giving the person a chance to explain themselves can help you keep a respectful relationship or quickly resolve the conflict rather than risking it getting worse.

Document incidents

Along with dealing with every instance of disobedience or conflict, you can keep track of little slip-ups as they happen. Make notes about the circumstances, including the involved parties, the incident locations, and the dates. Additionally, you can gather proof by interviewing coworkers or other employees who were present during the incidents.

You can keep track of whether a worker continues to engage in subordinate behavior or stir up a commotion at work by keeping these notes. Eventually, you can focus on their actions rather than them as individuals during your conflict resolution conversations by using these details to maintain your objectivity. This proof can also assist you or a human resources expert in determining suitable penalties for these persistent behaviors.

Remain calm

Maintaining a calm atmosphere when hosting a conversation about conflict resolution can make everyone involved feel more at ease. For instance, keep your voice down and your body language neutral throughout the conversation. You can project calmness through your body language, so make sure to maintain eye contact with everyone and display a welcoming, relaxed demeanor. Prior to responding or speaking, give everyone a chance to be heard as this will help everyone feel more at ease and less defensive about their part in the conflict.

Stay objective

Conflict resolution requires being objective, which calls for hearing each side out and refraining from placing blame. You can maintain respectful interactions and conversations when everyone feels heard. As this can help you avoid bias during the conversation, concentrate on the actions taken rather than your emotions or feelings toward the people. Similarly, to make everyone more at ease, conduct this conversation in a quiet, neutral setting, such as a conference room.

Identify areas for compromise

Effective conflict resolution often includes compromises between the affected parties. Your final choice should include elements that everyone can agree with or find appropriate even though everyone may not have gotten everything they wanted out of the discussion. You can determine how those outcomes might align by asking everyone what their ideal result would be. When there isn’t agreement, you can start coming up with ideas where each person can make concessions to arrive at the best outcome.

Develop an action plan

After a dispute is resolved, you can create a strategy to keep everyone on track and preserve goodwill between the parties. For instance, a person accused of disrespecting their manager may have felt unappreciated at work. As a result, both parties may express regret for their behavior and agree to regular check-in meetings. Setting aside this time to hear the opinions of the employees demonstrates the manager’s value for them and may assist the employee in understanding the significance of this relationship.

Involve third parties as needed

Depending on the circumstance, you might find it useful to involve a third party, like a representative of your company’s HR department. For instance, these people can act as neutral arbitrators in disputes between you and another worker. These experts are familiar with the policies and procedures of your company, and they frequently take advanced conflict resolution courses.


What counts as insubordination in the workplace?

An employee intentionally refusing to follow a lawful and reasonable order from their employer is referred to as insubordination in the workplace. A supervisor’s level of respect and management skills would be compromised by such a refusal, which is frequently cause for disciplinary action, including termination.

What are the grounds for insubordination?

Generally, insubordination requires cumulative acts with prior reprimands or warnings.
  • Refusal to Transfer. When an employee refuses to transfer (whether within the same plant or to a different location), they are depriving the employer of their services.
  • Refusal to Work a Different Shift. …
  • Refusal to Work Overtime.

How do you terminate an employee for insubordination?

Document a recent incident Be as specific as you can when describing the reasons the employee was let go for disobedience. There should be a definition of insubordination and related penalties in the company handbook. Citing the manual, explain what the employee did to break company rules and merit termination.

How do you handle insubordinate behavior at work?

Do’s and Don’ts for Managing the Insubordinate Employee
  1. Don’t take it personally. …
  2. Don’t lose your cool. …
  3. Do try and discover the root of the problem. …
  4. Do provide as much support as possible. …
  5. Do be honest. …
  6. Don’t stop doing your job. …
  7. Do remember to document everything. …
  8. Do consult with HR.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *