Respect at Work

Last month I heard an interesting radio interview on workplace incivility. In line with the theme of my (usually) monthly emails, I reflected on how this month’s email could kick off the year with tips that help build thriving people, thriving workplaces.  Below is some information from the radio interview and some information drawn from some of the past five years’ emails.

Workplace Incivility

Christine Pearson, Professor of Management at Arizona’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, is an expert in workplace incivility and was recently interviewed by ABC Radio National. Here are some extracts: Incivility is the seemingly inconsequential acts which have a negative impact.  It is at the low end in terms of intensity.  It can be denied, joked off, and some would say they don’t mean harm.  Incivility is not ‘out and out’ harassment and bullying.  It includes sarcasm, not being helpful, talking down, sending bad news via email, belittling, talking badly about people behind their back, or simply being unhelpfully unresponsive. Although the behaviour might be subtle, the costs are not.  People reduce their hours of work, reduce effort, lose focus, their customer service suffers and about one in eight people leave their job.  The bad behaviour ripples out and can corrode people’s values so that they too begin to act in similar ways. This happens when people are the on the receiving end of incivility, or if they witness it. Less than 10% of people report incivility because they think they might be ridiculed, or encouraged to get over it and toughen up.  Workplaces might not be aware that incivility is occurring because, unlike bullying and harassment, there are usually few corporate policies or guidelines on how to deal with this more subtle behaviour.

“Negative interactions had a fivefold strong effect on mood than positive interactions – so nasty people pack a lot more wallop than their more civilised counterparts” (“The No A-hole Rule”, Robert I. Sutton Ph.D., Warner Business Books, 2007)

A Thriving Workplace

Extracts from my previous emails:

Focus everyone’s attention on what it takes to be a decent human being, and how to uplift and energise others around them.  Encourage behaviours that promote positivity and help an organisation to thrive and flourish and to be a positive workplace. Because emotions are contagious, each person needs to consider their impact on those around them.

Leadership
  • Leaders have a role in inspiring positive moods and in creating the conditions that promote positivity
  • Leadership is closely linked to one’s humanity
  • “The new CEO will be a healer” (Bulletin Magazine, June 2005)
  • The best managers encourage friendships in the workplace by creating the conditions under which such relationships thrive
  • All employees deserve a manager who cares about their general wellbeing
Respectful relationships
  • It’s about hearts, minds and souls; workplaces should be full of “energy, light and vibrancy”
  • Developing a climate of appreciation in people, teams and organisations leads to better performance, more engaged workers, more satisfied staff.  It lifts the individual and collective mood and creates an attractive place where people want to work
  • Give attention to people; show respect; value them. Treat people with respect and caring: they want to belong
  • The motivation of people depends on human connectedness
  • Appreciation, valuing each other, is the building block for successful workplace relationships

“Respect can be a powerful signal to individuals regarding their standing not only as employees but as people” (Knowledge@Wharton “Lack of Organizational Respect Fuels Employee Burnout”)

“I am more aware of the attitude I bring to work and how it affects my colleagues around me.  I also make a conscious effort if I notice that someone is not the happiest or if they are super busy, I offer to get them lunch or remind them that they need a break or simply offer help.  Sometimes by just saying hello to someone and smiling or giving them a nice compliment can really change the person’s perspective.” (A client’s comment on how they treat others)

All the best in your quest to create the kind of workplace that brings “energy, light and vibrancy” and enriches employees’ hearts, minds and souls. I wish you well for 2009.


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