Earlier this year, I conducted a survey of over 2800 HR professionals worldwide. I polled these business professionals to see what organizational values would emerge as top priorities to improve workplace relationships between employees and managers. The results of the TIGERS survey ‘Trust and Communication’ seem to have good timing as there have been several blog posts and articles recently on civility and communication (or lack thereof) in the workplace.
Where’s the Civility in the Workplace?
Civility in the workplace has been diminished in today’s workforce. Many employees and leaders think because they are so busy and stressed that they can unleash a sharp tongue on an unsuspecting employee. Perhaps the employee was seeking clarity on a project. When there are no clear expectations or policies in place for acceptable behavior that applies to managers and employees alike, rudeness and lack of civility become the norm.
Key findings in the TIGERS 2012 survey reveal a trend of poor communication and civility in the workplace. To sum up the findings, here is how HR survey participants defined their views:
- Effective communication incorporates a need for timeliness, clarifying both roles and goals for employees. It requires resolving conflict and issues with civility and practicing transparent communication between departments and up and down the leadership chain.
I’m the Center of Your and My Universe
According to the 2012 survey, civility is an issue in organizations worldwide and not just in the U.S. According to Joyce E. A. Russell, a licensed industrial and organizational psychologist, the attitude of “I am the center of the universe and the rest of the world is here to take care of my needs” is prevalent in the workplace today. Many people think that being unpleasant to their colleagues is OK. They show up late for meetings without apologizing. There is little consideration given to the value of time lost to employees left waiting.
How do you define uncivil conduct in the workplace? This list is by no means complete, but includes:
- petty comments made to or about other employees
- communicating in an aggressive manner
- yelling at another employee – when did that ever become ok?
- not thanking an employee for taking on extra duties
- sabotaging departments or individuals by withholding information
- showing intolerance for individual differences, skill levels, and cultures
Given our survey findings, why is this a problem and what does it mean to your organization?
- Incivility sends a message to customers about the firm and is directly related to increased consumer complaints. If employees are rude to each other, you can bet they are rude and short with customers too!
- It affects employee loyalty — why would talented and highly-skilled employees want to stay in a business culture where rudeness is the norm?
- A lack of civility drains productivity. When employees are emotionally stressed and musing over who said what to whom conflict goes unresolved leading to avoidance of offensive individuals while trying to concentrate on work.
Are there solutions to improving communication and civility in the workplace? Certainly. Here are a few points to consider:
- Develop high ranking role models for all employees. If the CEO is abrasive, then everyone else has an excuse for being abrasive.
- Practice zero-tolerance for uncivil behavior. Be sure to take action otherwise it appears you are condoning it.
- Encourage “healthy” communication during conflict. A certain level of conflict is important in companies, and yet employees and managers often don’t know how to express conflict in a healthy way. Make sure to examine the conflict management styles of employees and managers and teach the value of positive inquiry and discussing issues openly.
- Provide stress management training. When e-mails, phone calls, and text messages are sent out in rapid fire, situations escalate.
- Acknowledge employees are your greatest asset. An organization cannot drive itself; employees drive the organization. If employees leave for greener pastures because of a hostile work environment, it is just a matter of time before the competition swallows your company whole.
- More listening…less talking. Listening is the “better half” of communicating. Master listening skills and you are three-quarters of the way there.
- Change is the only thing you can count on. Leaders need to be more proactive with communication during change. Even when information is not yet readily available, keep employees in the loop. This ensures and they will work with you as the organization grows and expands.
TIGERS 2012 Survey results are now available
The full survey results are available in report form on the TIGERS Success Series website and are complimentary with a TIGERS Den membership where team leaders and HR professionals can gain access to resources and tools on learning how to become an “elite” preferred employer.
Copyright TIGERS Success Series by Dianne Crampton
Image by iStock
As a thought leader in the team culture movement, she has been published by Barrett Koehler, Pfeiffer (an in print of John Wiley & Sons) and Three Creeks. Her latest work, TIGERS Among Us: Winning Business Team Cultures and Why They Thrive has received international acclaim.
Nominated by Merrill Lynch for Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for a team culture change system that helps leaders bring about desired team culture change remarkably fast, she certifies and licenses consultants, facilitators, and HR leader to use the proven TIGERS team culture system within their organization with measurable success. TIGERS helps leaders build and improve trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk, and success in teams which results in a dynamic work environment that attracts and retains very talented, quality-focused people.
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