“Civility costs nothing, and buys everything.” – Mary Wortley Montagu
Incivility—rude behavior and other forms of discourtesy—is actually the underpinning of bullying.
You can probably think of examples of rudeness you’ve encountered in your workplace: colleagues making petty comments, shouting at one another, backbiting, and the like. But if you’re able to enhance the civility of your workplace, it effectively diffuses the bullying. In this follow-up article to last month’s focus on bullying, we’ll examine the importance of cultivating workplace civility and discuss how you can achieve it.
All that rude behavior is bad for businesses.
A study on workplace conflict by John Ford and Associates found that the average Fortune 1000 executive spends 13% of his or her valuable time mediating employee disputes. And according to the American Psychological Association, workplace stress over the past decade has cost the U.S. economy billions each year. When employee incivility goes unaddressed, organizations also experience higher turnover, more absenteeism, and lower productivity. It can lead to enduring reputational damage and potentially costly litigation, as well. It’s easy to see the value in improving workplace civility.
Is your organization doing enough to cultivate a respectful workplace?
While it takes vigilance to keep the workplace civil, it’s far from impossible. You can employ a number of simple strategies to keep your own behavior in check and to foster civility among others:
- Model good behavior. As a leader, you set the tone for your team, so you need to be aware of your actions at all times. If employees see that those in charge tolerate or embrace uncivil behavior, they’re likely to follow suit. So be on time for meetings, turn off your phone during employee conversations, pay attention, be responsive, and follow up on your promises.
- Show your appreciation. One way to help create a culture of respect and bring out the best in your employees is to express gratitude. Personal notes are particularly effective, especially if they emphasize being a positive role model and embracing your organization’s values.
- Teach civility. You may be surprised to find that your employees don’t fully understand what it means to be civil. Offer training on good manners and ways to show respect to colleagues. Kick off the training to demonstrate your commitment.
- Encourage thinking before acting. We should all carefully consider the impact of our words and actions on others before we act. Too often, e-mails or text messages are sent out in hastily in anger, which only serves to escalate an adverse situation.
- Raise awareness. If an employee behaves badly, don’t lecture him or her. Instead, choose to be tactful. Speak with the person privately and say, “I’d like to make you aware of something” or “You may not realize that …” Your tone should convey concern rather than anger.
- Reward good behavior. Courtesy should be a consideration in every performance review, but many companies are so focused on outcomes that they overlook damaging behaviors. Take a look at your review system. Does it motivate the qualities of civility you’re seeking?
Cultivating civility is essential to promote dignity, respect and trust in the workplace. These positive feelings can boost productivity, reduce employee turnover, and increase employee morale. If you need additional guidance in cultivating civility in your workplace, please contact the experienced professionals at The HR Team.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.