The recent showdown in the oval office between the President of the United States and the leaders of the Democratic party was a reminder of the importance of civility. Why? When our goal is to accomplish as much as we can and be as effective as possible, incivility rarely improves the situation. While politics is a place that is built on opposition and has shown sustained flashes of incivility for a long time, the work place is another less commonly addressed area for incivility to rear it’s ugly head.
Manners at home…not so much at work.
Why is it that many people behave one way at home and yet another at work?
Rudeness at work is a counter productive element that many workers have to deal with. Business commentator Jason Dorsey argues that this is due in part to current economic circumstances and the struggle to survive. I would argue that this only adds fuel to a pre-existing fire.
The workplace has always seemed to foster some fairly ill treatment of others.
There is much research out there pointing to the pitfalls of behaving poorly at work. An article in Maclean’s highlights the importance of civility in the workplace. While it focuses on relations between co-workers, the fact remains that most people leave their jobs because of the leader directly above them. One way or another, treating others with respect at work remains key to creating a productive, engaging and ultimately, highly competitive business.
Where to start.
Creating a workplace culture that supports people to do their best depends much upon the leadership of the organization. As I’ve observed time and again in my consultancy, leadership and culture are two sides of the same coin. Leadership determines the tone of the work environment. Here are 3 steps to help you begin the process of putting civility at the forefront in your workplace:
Step 1 – Vision: it’s important to get clear on the culture that you want. Begin with having open and honest discussions with staff about what professionalism and respect look like in their work environment.
Step 2 – Be Inclusive: all staff and every level of management should be included in this exercise. Remember, given the wide range of ages that exist in many work environments, views on manners will be different. For example, Millennials may see texting during conversations or meetings as being OK, whereas Gen Y’s or Boomers may see it as rude.
Step 3 – Modeling from the top: leadership is the fundamental driver of culture in the workplace. Leaders must model civil behavior and be prepared to lead by example.
Remember, the above steps will take time to develop and change will not come overnight. But with focus, personal accountability, and by leadership setting the tone, shifts will occur.