Brighton Leadership Group

Be Nice…why, and how…

One of the shocking things we discovered from a Global Leadership Summit presentation was the rampant rise in workplace incivility. Considering what we read in newspapers and see on TV, perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising. It seems that rudeness is all the rage.
The 2011 Civility in America poll reported that 38 percent of workers believe the workplace is becoming more disrespectful. More than half the workers surveyed said they were treated poorly at least once a week. In 1998 that was only 25%.  Within fourteen years the level of incivility has doubled. Is this acceptable?
In the book Mastering Civility, Christine Porath explains the significant business impact posed by failing to foster a culture of civility. Disrespected workers experience a 50% drop in productivity.
Imagine what employees do when they encounter customers…they pass it on. According to the research mentioned above, seven in ten Americans have stopped buying from a company or re-evaluated their opinions of a company because someone from the company was uncivil in their interaction.
On the flip side, a 2003 study by Watson Wyatt showed that companies that openly promote civil communication among employees earn 30 percent more revenue than competitors, are four times more likely to have highly engaged employees, and are 20 percent more likely to report reduced turnover.
As a Leader, you can take action immediately:

  1. Educate yourself about incivility and its impact. Johns Hopkins Professor Pier M. Forni, co-founder of the Civility Project, defines the basics of civility as the Three R’s: Respect, Restraint and Responsibility.
  2. Create a Civility Code or Creed. Define what respect in the workplace means. Be specific with the behaviors that demonstrate respect and be clear that this is expected. It doesn’t have to be complex. Some examples include; no interrupting, greet and acknowledge each other, say please and thank you, etc.
  3.  Consider Your Culture. What is permissible in the workplace is learned through cultural osmosis. When leaders tolerate bullying, they create a culture of incivility. Take action as needed to ensure that you are promoting a civil culture.

Consider the costs and the benefits of civility. Nice guys (and girls) finish first, not last. Being nice pays off in many ways, including the bottom line. So be explicit in defining what it means to be respectful in the workplace, and set an example for your team.

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