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Workplace Incivility

One of my personal pet peeves at work is when co-workers and managers don’t treat each other with respect. Understanding that managers have a job to do and if they have employees who are not performing this needs to be addressed; however, it can always be done with respect. Regardless of the message, no matter how difficult, sensitive or critical it is, it can always be delivered in a respectful way so that the person receiving the message is allowed to maintain their dignity.

So having said that, my temperature always rises when I see and hear of incidents of workplace incivility. These run the gamut of things like employees treating admin staff as if they were somehow lesser people or lower on the proverbial food chain, employees doing an end around on another colleague in order to make their own project look better, or my personal favourite – the manager who berates their employee over the phone. Honestly, I will never understand why one person thinks that yelling at another is going to accomplish something. I really don’t get how a manager thinks that one of their employees is going to work better/harder/faster/smarter because they yell at them? After a few times the shock effect wears off and the employee becomes numb to the effect of the yelling anyway.

YellingI have also grown tired of the stories, and having seen in previous roles, employees and managers who “throw” documents at their staff and “tell” them to get them photocopied, distributed, etc. I have further grown increasingly impatient with managers who call out their employees in front of other employees at staff meetings. I am talking about the type of manager who seems to take pride in pointing out another person’s shortcomings and generally seems to relish embarrassing them in front of their peers. I am not sure what personal short comings they are trying to compensate for but I can sure take a guess.

At the end of the day, what can we do? Well for starters, if you are in HR, you have a professional obligation to provide a safe and healthy work environment for the employees of your company. You should immediately address situations like these with the other person’s manager and gameplan a discussion with the instigator of the workplace incivility. Partner with their manager and have them identify the inappropriate conduct, reference the organizational values and the impact to the other person and request that the behavior not be repeated. This is one of the quickest ways to stamp out this behavior and change your company culture. Work with your CEO and make sure he/she is onside, vigorously coach your leadership team on proper communication and support of organizational values and then hold each other accountable for making the change. Most importantly, NEVER walk by or shrug off these incidents. If you have to, interject and ask to speak with the offending party in private so as to stop the behavior immediately.

It shouldn’t be hard to get your CEO onside to take a firm approach to these matters, even if they are initially apprehensive. One only has to look at the cost of turnover, disengagement, absenteeism and the direct costs of lawsuits stemming from a psychologically unsafe work environment to see the positive impact change in this area can make. Let’s all make a commitment to ourselves, our profession and our employers that we will not accept workplace incivility and will do our utmost to stamp it out whenever and wherever we see it.

What about you? Have you seen this type of behavior in your current or past workplaces? How did you address it? What challenges did you face? As always, I would love to hear from you.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net


One Response

  1. Reblogged this on The Armchair HR Manager and commented:

    From the not so dusty archives….

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