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Company Culture: A Call for More Civility in the Workplace

Company Culture: A Call for More Civility in the Workplace

In the workplace there is little room for civility and kindness unless it is ingrained in a company culture. Business tends to lean towards being hard-nosed and competitive with people adopting the “what’s in it for me” attitude. This has resulted in an unspoken culture of incivility in companies, a behaviour that we’ve all probably engaged in from time to time but one which we don’t approve of. Incivility means that we’re disrespectful and undignified towards others, and express this by not listening attentively, by looking at our phone while someone is speaking to us, working on our laptop while talking, taking credit for a job that we didn’t do, blaming others and not taking ownership when we make a mistake, walking away from people while they’re still talking, publicly mocking or belittling people, being dismissive towards others, ignoring or excluding people in conversations, and withholding information. We may not be doing these things with malice but rather from a place of ignorance; however, in a workplace environment incivility in a company culture comes at a high cost. It doesn’t matter if you’re directly involved or if you’re observing incivility towards a colleague, it affects you just as much!

Incivility can be summarised as being blatantly rude towards others and not respecting diversity. Most leaders are actively doing their best to promote and get a healthy balance within their teams and using diversity to appreciate and leverage off each other’s many and varied talents, skills, strengths, ideas and perspectives. Incivility simply pours ice cold water over diversity. Research shows that incivility within a company culture results in decreased work performance, reduced creativity and brainstorming by up to 39%, disengagement in meetings, a lack of attention to instructions, and emotional exhaustion. Incivility comes at a high cost to organisations, but it is seldom ring-fenced as such. We think that people are under pressure to perform and busy with work tasks which makes multi-tasking acceptable, when in actual fact it is not. We’ll start to see little cliques developing within our teams and will notice that some of our colleagues are more isolated from the team than they should be. We all see it, but we don’t always take the time to stop, think about it and reflect over its impact on others, the team and our organisation. We may be directly involved and know how emotionally draining it feels to be sidelined or bullied by others, but we don’t often stand up for ourselves. We see it, we hear it, we feel it, but we don’t do enough about it to stop it, and we allow this uncivil behaviour of others to wash over us. Incivility in the workplace is not ok and it’s not acceptable. The change can come from leadership and be filtered down, but it can also start with you and be filtered down to your co-workers.

To shift the lever from incivility to being civil and respectful can start with being kind and empathetic towards others by using these tools.

  1. Saying thank you can go a very long way. These are two very simple and easy words that we only use 10% of the time at work. Be civil by thanking the people around you for their contribution, for their ideas and for their commitment. Thank you is also about acknowledging the person and being respectful of their work, time, ideas and resources. It’s about not taking other people for granted. Make a conscious effort to thank people more often.
  2. Share resources and knowledge: At work we often hold onto our knowledge believing that if we share it with others it may make us perhaps dispensable or vulnerable as others can use our work, ideas and concepts. Quite the contrary is true! When we share our knowledge and resources, we make room for innovation and allow for creativity with new ideas and concepts. Sharing is definitely caring, and often through conversation entirely novel ideas emerge. Not to mention that nowadays most of the knowledge can be googled and doesn’t have the prestige and power it did 20 or 30 years ago. Share your time and knowledge openly, frequently and generously.
  3. Give feedback generously and express gratitude: Giving someone feedback goes a level deeper than simply saying thank you as you have to be more specific. Articulate clearly what you liked about what they did and want more of, or what you think could be improved on. The art here is not to be general, but to really take the time to be specific about their behaviour, language, skill or process as that depth helps people to make the necessary change, by either repeating a behaviour, tweaking it or mastering it. Also, share what you’re grateful for in the person, and acknowledge them for the strengths and values they bring to your work.
  4. Attentive listening and attention: How often do you catch yourself listening with one ear, nodding away to the person talking, but already thinking of something else? It’s an unhealthy habit many of us have developed that is completely rude. We know very well what it feels like to be on the receiving end and we don’t like it at all, so be civil and don’t do it to others. Stop what you’re doing and honour what the person has come to share with you. Listen attentively to them about what they want or need from you. Tune into their mind and way of thinking so that you can solve a problem quicker or address their concern without miscommunication. Listening saves time and demonstrates respect towards the other person.

The time has come to reduce incivility in the workplace and to shift into humane engagements that value respect and honour diversity and kindness. Don’t wait for others to kick-start this; be courageous and start with your team and your co-workers.

Take this brief civility assessment to establish what your score is as well as areas that you can improve on: http://www.christineporath.com/take-the-assessment/

Do your bit to change your workplace into a happy environment.

Breaking The Taboo Of Touch in The Workplace

Breaking The Taboo Of Touch in The Workplace

Touch in the workplace has long been the topic of much tension, with sexual harassment being a trigger point for legal action and civic concern. This has left many managers feeling that they cannot use touch for fear of causing harm or damaging their relationships with staff. This article aims to lay out the value of using physical touch in the workplace and how when used appropriately it can positively impact company outcomes, improve work relationships and increase employee well-being.

Touch is a basic human need. From the time we are born, touch provides necessary sensory input for our physical, emotional, psychological and social development. This is a known fact; however as we get older, touch becomes a sensitive issue, and our touch anxiety grows. “If I touch them, what will happen if they get the wrong idea, and could I damage this relationship?” is the question playing in the back of our minds. While our need for touch remains fundamental to our sense of connection and support of others, we become more hesitant, which is in turn compounded by the context of the professional environment.

As the world becomes more digital and virtual, many of us are becoming “touch deprived”, and despite our adult touch anxiety, we still have a fundamental need for physical contact. Touch forms part of how we communicate, bond and socialise non-verbally with others. The less often we touch, the less connected we feel which impacts many areas of our health. Within the workplace setting there are many unseen impacts of reduced touch, and hopefully through this article you will feel a greater sense of self-efficacy in using and receiving this powerful communication tool.

Let’s have a look at the nine benefits of physical touch and how they translate into positive workplace outcomes.

The nine reasons why you should be using more touch at work

  • It increases oxytocin

Oxytocin is known as our “cuddle hormone”, though don’t let this put you off. Oxytocin is the hormone associated with human bonding, and when released it can help us develop a sense of safety and trust in one another. Trust is a cultural value of paramount importance in organisations, as it boosts our creativity, innovation, perceived purpose in the organisation’s vision, and in turn leads to greater commitment to the organisation’s objectives for the long-term. So this “soft” hormone has some powerful benefits.

  • Touch counteracts stress

In this world filled with change and uncertainty, stress is a constant; however physical touch can be part of the antidote as research shows that physical touch releases large amounts of dopamine – “our happy hormone”. Dopamine is not only associated with feelings of happiness and well-being, but also plays a major role in increasing feelings of relaxation, and we all know that we are more productive, participatory and pleasant when we are relaxed. Dopamine counters stress and in turn the many modern-day diseases we suffer from as a result.

  • It boosts our immunity

The more touch we receive, the better our immune system is able to perform. This becomes especially relevant when we think of the time and costs incurred from absenteeism. So, the more we touch, the more productive we are and the better able we are to perform our roles without needing to take sick leave.

  • Work needs to satisfy people’s needs

We are living in a new age where people are not only looking for their pay cheque, but also for a sense of purpose and meaning in their job. It is therefore essential that companies provide this in order to retain their staff. As physical touch is one of our fundamental human needs, providing more appropriate touch in the workplace can help to satisfy this need while boosting staff retention.

  • Touch boosts effective interpersonal communication

Touch serves many functions in the workplace from validation (a tap on the back), to interaction management (tapping a shoulder to get attention), persuasion (holding someone’s arm to direct them where we want to go) and celebration (high fives). All of these appropriate uses of touch in the workplace enable healthy non-verbal communication in the office environment, and when missing can influence the effectiveness of our interactions by creating confusion, increasing mistrust and reducing feelings of appreciation.

  • It increases perceived managerial social effectiveness

Touch is related to self-esteem. The higher our feelings of confidence, the more we are able to use touch effectively. In the workplace this can be an area of much deliberation because if touch is used ineffectively it can damage relationships. It is therefore very important for managers to be aware of the needs of their individual staff so that they can meet them appropriately. When this is performed effectively, staff will perceive their manager as being socially effective and hold them in higher esteem. And considering that management is one of the top five reasons why people leave their jobs, this is a valuable method to retain staff.

  • Effective touch is a sign of an authentic leader

We have all heard of the term “authentic leadership” and we have covered this topic in many of our blogs. An authentic leader is one who is totally themselves at work. They show integrity in their actions which means that they hold nothing back from their staff. Touch is a non-verbal indicator of authenticity as although it is unspoken, we are all able to perceive when someone is being ingenuine when we come into physical contact with them. The use of touch is therefore a powerful first step for any manager who wants to become more authentic in their leadership position.

  • Touch boosts likeability

We tend to like people who show that they like us. Touch is a primary non-verbal way of showing care and appreciation and therefore plays a valuable role in increasing how much one is liked in their office environment. This is useful for anybody however for managers in particular, the use of touch can boost managerial likeability. So if you are looking for a way to win over your new team, this could be just the simple solution you are looking for.

  • Touch increases role performance

Research has shown that the amount of touch a supervisor offers their staff impacts their perception of feeling supported, not only by said supervisor but by the organisation as a whole. This has a profound benefit on organisational outcomes because when staff feel they are fully supported by their company, their performance is boosted and they are more likely to perform organisational citizenship behaviours (volunteering for tasks and supporting co-workers).

In conclusion

As you can see from the reasons above, touch plays a powerful role in mediating our workplace relationships and reaching organisational outcomes. From boosting role performance to reducing absenteeism, there are a lot of reasons for using more touch in the workplace. Now before you head off to stroke your co-workers, please be aware. People have different touch profiles and will respond differently to touch. In order to achieve all the benefits that touch has to offer your company, it is therefore necessary to be mindful of each individual and manage your use accordingly. Touch is the oldest and strongest of our human senses; use it wisely and effectively and your organisation is sure to see massive benefits.

It is essential for today’s management to adopt a coaching mind-set

It is essential for today’s management to adopt a coaching mind-set

The working environment has changed over the last twenty years and still continues to do so. What was an acceptable and appropriate leadership style ten years ago is outdated today on both an organisational and an employee level. The time is long gone where leaders could tell their staff what to do, make all the decisions for them, and micro-manage how and when people perform their tasks.

Companies have recognised that innovative, out-of-the-box thinking will make them survive as well as outperform their competitors, and changing the working culture from a stoic authoritarian to a more transparent, fair and dynamic style is certainly a positive and supportive step for their employees. Further flattening the organisational hierarchy structure allows for information to flow faster, freely and more accurately; thereby implementing effective employee engagement and well-being strategies that support and encourage people to be creative in solving today’s working challenges.

Employees are responding positively, albeit sometimes hesitantly, to the change of having permission to actively contribute to finding solutions. Their voices have been stifled for so long that there is doubt and uncertainty if this is for real. Managers play a crucial role in encouraging innovative thinking, employee participation and active voicing of ideas through their leadership styles.

If managers want to remain relevant and be promoted, adopting a coaching mind-set will be of tremendous value to their career and their team’s performance. This will be seen when they encourage employees to think for themselves, make their own decisions and be accountable for their actions. Of course, things won’t always go according to plan, and that is where managers have to shift from a “tell and fix-it” mind-set to a coaching mind-set. A coaching mind-set is built on the foundation of inquiry, listening, questioning and trusting. Let’s explore each one in more depth.

Inquiry: To gather all the facts and establish what happened and what didn’t, without jumping to conclusions or making assumptions. Equally to not judge the person or situation. Remaining neutral, open-minded and detached are learned behaviours that take time to master. Think of it as being a detective who has to find all the facts in a “murder” mystery. The obvious person isn’t necessarily always the murder. During your investigation, you make lots of enquiries, and people will tell you what you need and want to hear. You must be able to see the bigger picture and not be roped into the story.

Listening: To hear and learn something new, which differs from listening to have a fact confirmed. When you listen for what is not being said, you have to focus and tune into the other person’s communication wave length, acutely focusing on their body language, tone of voice, use of words, facial expressions and, hand gestures. In the same process observing yourself and understanding your listening intent, periodically checking in that you remain open-minded, curious and non-judgemental.

Questioning: If the inquiry and listening steps have been done well, the third step may come a lot easier. But a question doesn’t always equal a question. The art to questioning is to formulate your questions in such a way that they get information and an understanding of the person’s thought process. Being curious without blame or accusation is the ideal balance. Reframing from posing closed questions that can be answered with either a yes or no doesn’t help us to get a better understanding of why a person did what they did. The question and listening phase is a gentle dance that continues until an inspiring solution or a new idea forms.

Trusting: The final stage is trusting that through the manager’s enquiry, listening and guided questioning, the employee has established where in their thought process or behaviour they have gone off course, and have identified how to deal with the problem at hand. This will allow the employee to discover their shortcoming as well as how to correct it, and is intrinsically motivating for the employee. In addition, it encourages them to deepen their thinking and find solutions to current working challenges.

Coaching is a very powerful tool that managers can learn and master so that they can drive employee commitment, accountability and job satisfaction. External coach training schools provide excellent in-depth training; however. these may be more appropriate for individuals wishing to pursue a permanent coaching career. There are also many well-written books which cover this topic.

You could also get in touch with us – we are well-equipped to train and instil a coaching mind-set for your managers and your company.