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Civility in the Workplace (part 2 of 3) - What It Looks Like When Companies Insist That Part Of Each Employee's Job Is To Be Civil And Respectful In The Workplace

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Last month I talked about the overall cost of the "lack" of civility in the workplace and gave you the reasons for it and some possible overall on this link if you missed it.

This month I’d like to elaborate on some ideas that have helped others to be more aware of, not only of their own behaviors in the workplace, but of others’ behaviors, while seizing opportunities to coach the challenged ones toward better behaviors.  When we seize these opportunities, they create learning events for all parties.

The following are the key points from last month’s first installment that I will elaborate on in this month’s article:

  • Insist as a leader that your company will focus on civility in the are some tips:
    • Make it a category on your semi- and annual performance reviews that civility and respect of coworkers is a way of life for your company.
    • Encourage each manager/leader that they are the models of civility and respect in the workplace and to coach their staff when problems arise.
    • Communicate the message as much as possible that civility is not only for the external clients, and that the results of great internal civility in the workforce promotes great civility toward the customers and clients. Additionally, this heightened level of civility creates an atmosphere of comfort and ease conducive with the very best and most productive organizations.
  • Create expectations on what you expect on the topic of civility in the workplace and encourage participation from others to set standards of behaviors or ground are some tips:
    • Managers and leaders have meeting all the time – make some time to facilitate some good communication processes that will help maintain civility in the workforce. E.g., lazy language is the use of terms like always, never, everyone and they, that build barriers and offend without intent. Creating awareness about things like lazy language will help.
    • Ask employees what their ideas are to help maintain civility in the workplace that will, at the same time, promote healthy conversations when things need to be said, especially if some folks do not agree. We have even seen a rise recently in groups whose focus is on civility in the workplace though they may be named something else. It is on people's minds.
    • Gain commitment from each employee that he/she understands the importance of civility in the workplace. Ask each person what they will do or help others to do that will add to the idea of better levels of human interaction.
  • Coach others through the process of learning and are some tips:
    • Define clearly for everyone in writing and displayed exactly what incivility looks like in the workplace and some examples. Place it on a flipchart, poster, handout or whatever devise you choose to create a visual model. This clarifies for many people what "IT" is. Until many people receive these examples, they will go along (short term) but not truly understand.
    • If you see someone having a bad day and taking it out on others, or if you see or hear someone being disrespectful toward another employee, ask the employee to meet with you in a quiet and confidential location as soon as possible. Bring them back to the display in the first visual above.
    • Ask the employee what is going on and listen with a high level of curiosity (with your body language) and keep asking questions until you can understand what the employee is going through.
    • If the employee realizes his/her behavior was inappropriate, ask the employee what he/she intends to do to resolve the issue.
    • If the employee does not realize his/her behavior was inappropriate, let the employee know that his/her behavior is unacceptable in this company and he/she needs to come up with a solution to solve this problem (you can offer some help if the employee is not able to come up with one).
    • If the situation is severe enough, let the employee know what it means to his/her job if the behavior does not go away.
  • Follow up and document through your performance management system or make it a "must" in the process are some tips:
    • Before ending any coaching meeting with an employee who needs to know the importance of civility and respectfulness in the workplace, make sure you make an appointment to meet with him/her again and that you expect him/her to have some successes or improvements.
    • Be appreciative of the employee if he/she is doing a good job and is sticking to his/her plan to improve.
    • Start round two if the employee continues to misbehave (and this time, there may be some disciplinary action involved).
    • Continue to follow up as much as possible with the employee who is making the effort to improve.
  • Be consistent and tackle issues immediately to help eliminate stressful and unwarranted incivility in the are some tips:
    • Being consistent as a leader, manager, or coach is very important to helping others improve and therefore makes you look the model of civility and respect in the workplace.
    • Seize every opportunity to enlighten your employees on the importance of civility in the workplace. This creates a very safe environment for all employees and creates a very profitable company!

Finally and most importantly, model and demonstrate the behavior of civility yourself. There is nothing more important these days than great leadership and everyone is watching. This quality is demonstrated by great leaders routinely.

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Lorraine Twombly
Priority Learning



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