As an employee retention speaker and employee retention expert, I talk to my clients and participants in my programs about civility all the time. Bottom line…it is disappearing from the workplace like it is disappearing from everyday life. It’s tough to do something about incivility in the everyday world…but not at work! I recently read an article in the Chicago Tribune that cites a University of Michigan study how fatigue brings on incivility. We used to get fatigued “back in the day” when I first started working in HR and we had some very caustic labor/management environments. But, in those places where our leaders would not tolerate incivility, it ended. As an HR Manager I would not tolerate incivility from my managers or from the union.
Incivility is really about leadership. If you have a leadership team that will tolerate it, it will go on. In some cases, leaders are the perpetrators of incivility. If that is the case, I can guarantee you that you will have a toxic environment. In environments where the union was not called out for their incivility it tended to grow and grow and grow. When we made it abundantly clear that incivility would not be tolerated we saw the miraculous occur. Incivility stopped!
We hear about setting the bar high all the time. Well, it’s time to set the bar high with civility. Leaders need to tell their people what they expect in the way of positive behaviors. Be specific about what you want and when you don’t get it, bring people in and tell them it is unacceptable and that they better change. It is pretty simple. The incivility will end. Why is this so important? This is actually part of your employee retention strategies. When working as an employee retention trainer, I advocate this because people love civil environments. If you have one, you have a competitive advantage when it comes to retaining people.
As my buddy Randy Wilinski and I say when we are speaking about dealing with the millennials, “it’s time to stop complaining and do something about it.” Incivility is the same. If you are a leader, tell your people what you expect and that incivility is not acceptable. Incivility may be brought on by fatigue but incivility can be ended by proper leadership.