My first 'real' job was a customer service representative for Bell Canada. In that workplace I learned communication fundamentals. The leaders listened without interruption and provided objective feedback (both positive and constructive). As a result, it was a civilized, respectful place to work. The workplace is, in fact, the place where many of us learn "healthy" behaviours and, ideally, they are transferred to other parts of our lives.
Unfortunately, in some workplaces, inappropriate behaviours, such as bullying and rudeness become contagious and spread out in many directions. Trevor Foulk, who researches organizational behavior at the University of Maryland, likens rudeness to the common cold -- it's contagious. "When it comes to incivility, there's often a snowballing effect. The more you see rudeness, the more likely you are to perceive it from others and the more likely you are to be rude yourself to others."
A leadership role carries responsibility for creating 'safe' cultures that are inclusive, civil and respectful. A leader who says nothing about bullying and rudeness, for example, will perpetuate these behaviours and help their spread - creating a toxic culture.
As a coach, I hear from leaders who struggle to know how to stop inappropriate behaviour in their workplaces. My coaching on this issue typically starts with each leader's own behaviour:
1: Practice the art of reflection. Ask yourself if your behaviour is reflective of what you want to see in the workplace.
2: Be a role model for respectful behaviour -- every day.
3: Ask for feedback about your behaviour. Receive it gratefully and graciously.
4: Encourage employees to offer their point of view and advocate for what they see as right in the workplace.
5: Listen when people offer suggestions or ways to improve the culture. and let them know what will be done with their suggestions.
6: Speak up when you witness disrespectful behaviour. Communicate openly and honestly about what you heard, how you felt, and why it's not okay.
7: Reinforce positive behaviour. Speak up when you witness respectful behaviour -- let others know that it's appreciated and valued.
I am pleased to share with you a new video about the Centre for Creative Leadership's approach to building a 'character' culture, which encompasses both organizational culture and personal, authentic leadership.
If you are interested in a series of coaching sessions for you or your leadership team around how to be a role model for respectful behaviour, please reach out to me.
Kathleen Redmond, MA, MCC