Highlights - December 2017

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Workplace incivility is taking over our organizations, professional relationships and everyday interactions.  Understanding why this incivility happens and how to address it, starts with awareness.

“When we think about incivility we think about something major, but it doesn’t have to be,” explains Dr. Jia Wang, of Texas A&M University.  “Most of the time, it’s the little things accumulated in your daily life that make a huge impact.”

When incivility happens, and it affects enough employees, it can impact productivity and, eventually, an organization’s bottom line.  Uncivil acts, also termed microaggressions, have been cited as a major cause of employee turnover, poor workplace climate and job dissatisfaction.

Many people experience incivility, but they choose not to speak up because they need the job or worry about retribution. Organizations need to help people to be courageous and say ‘this is not right and it needs to stop.

So, what can an organization do to reduce and prevent incivility in the workplace?  Wang’s research suggests five “best practices”:

  1. Define Acceptable Behavior. This starts with the organization’s leadership. To make a change in the workplace, leaders need to develop behavior statements. These statements define what qualifies as “uncivil” on both the personal and organizational level. “If I was holding a workshop session, I would have [an employer] sit down and brainstorm as many statements as they could. I would have them think about things they have observed and experienced and what they would consider uncivil,” explains Wang.
  2. Engage with Employees. It is also important for leadership to take a look at their own actions and determine whether they are being civil to their employees.  A leadership team has to be willing to engage in conversations with and take feedback from colleagues.  Unfortunately, a lot of people — including CEOs and corporate leaders — are not willing to discuss uncivil behavior because it is uncomfortable and often confrontational.
  3. Recognize Behavior Patterns. Wang recommends making small changes like having meetings to discuss bad behaviors a company wants to stop and good behavior that deserves...

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