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Civility and Kindness Count

Uncategorized Nov 01, 2017

I constantly marvel at how poorly people treat their family members.

These people, our spouses and our children, who we vow to cherish and who are our own flesh and blood, are sometimes treated worse than anyone else on the planet.  I guess in many cases, there is truth to the saying “Familiarity Breeds Contempt”.

Sadly, the same can often be said for our employees.

These people, who we carefully hire to help us accomplish our dreams, come into our lives and become fixtures. They show up every day and do the job we ask them to do, and we begin to take them for granted. Worse, sometimes we actually begin to resent them for the needs and questions they have.

We begin to treat them like the furniture or our computer, not noticing that they are real actual people with lives, with families and people who care about them, and with feelings.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Christine Porath and Christine Pearson report that 98% of the thousands of workers they have surveyed reported experiencing uncivil behavior on the job.

Sometimes it is the ‘Boss from Hell’. Sometimes it is getting yelled at, or getting chastised like a child in front of other people. Sometimes it is simply being ignored, or not consulted on a project, or not told in advance about something important to you. Sometimes it is being treated in a condescending manner—“Just do it—it’s what we hired you for!”

According to Porath and Pearson, regardless of exactly WHAT the behavior is, the results are often the same. They found:

  • “48% of people intentionally decrease their work effort
  • 47% intentionally decrease the time spent at work
  • 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work
  • 80% lost time worrying about the incident
  • 63% lost work time avoiding the offender
  • 66% said their performance declined
  • 78% said their commitment to the organization declined
  • 12% said they left their job
  • 25% admitted taking out their frustrations on customers”

Is this the kind of team you dream of having? Most of us would say no.

How to turn around a sour culture?

  1. Get feedback from people you trust. Are you treating people badly? Or even just taking them for granted?
  2. Make a personal commitment to be polite and to truly appreciate your team.
  3. Decide what you need to do to live that commitment. Is it your style to write handwritten notes of appreciation? Do you develop an employee award that expresses appreciation? Do you schedule time to spend with each employee every two weeks? Whatever you decide to do, calendar it and institutionalize it.
  4. Commit to the basics: please, thank you, good morning, how was your weekend, I really appreciate your work…all of these and others are basic polite habits to get into.
  5. Share the goal of being more civil with the team. Ask for their ideas—what would mean a lot to them? Emphasize it in team meetings. Put up signs to remind people.
  6. Measure your success. Implement a regular employee satisfaction survey to measure how values your team members feel. Keep working at it.

Kindness spreads. When people feel appreciated they work harder, they are more loyal, and they are less likely to leave. They are also more likely to treat you and their co-workers kindly.

That is the kind of team I dream of having!

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