Civility in the workplace is sometimes viewed as a “soft skill” that is too vague to understand and control. Civility Rules! challenges that notion. What’s soft about preventing millions of dollars in damage? Preserving your firm’s reputation? Creating an environment where you can get the most out of your human capital investment? Avoiding breaches of compliance? Perhaps even saving lives?
All of these areas are affected by your organization’s culture. To have the best business results, your organization must pay attention to what is seen as acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Focusing on civility will create the best workplace possible… one that produces positive results and minimizes negative behaviors.
What’s soft about investing in the greatest area of cost and potential for most organizations (employees)?
The ideal workplace is a space where people are engaged and risks are minimized, a space where inclusion, respect, integrity, and teamwork reach their peak productivity while keeping the organization operating within the spirit, not just the letter, of the law. It is a place where a commitment to being both legal and civil helps prevent, detect, and ultimately limit compliance risk.
Drawing an artificial line between unacceptable behavior and illegal behavior is a common but basically unsound business strategy. In reality, there is a continuum of behaviors and the illegal behaviors that gather so much attention are really just the tip of an iceberg of harmful, non-productive and risky behaviors. But all layers of the iceberg impose very real costs on an organization (see figure).
Organizations that want to reduce all kinds of risk and improve workplace inclusion and respect have to think about using civility as the underlying theme. They have to pay attention to and address all unacceptable behaviors, not just those that stray over the illegal threshold.
What is the “best possible workplace”?
At the core of a “best possible workplace” is how work gets done through people. Organizations bene t when they make the most of their human capital, and civility is a means to accomplish that end. It allows an organization to create a workplace where employees:
- Can concentrate and perform at their best; they are not distracted by behaviors that hinder creativity, stifle contributions, or make them feel unwelcome.
- Care about their work and their employer.
- Act in line with basic codes of conduct and rules.
- Speak up to share their ideas and concerns.
- Trust that they and others in the organization can work out problems quickly and effectively.
- Are treated based on their merit, accomplishment, skills, and talents.