In 2013 the Harvard Business Review published an article on the price of incivility in organisations.
The price of incivility:
48% intentionally decreased their work effort.
47% intentionally decreased the time spent at work.
38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work.
80% lost work time worrying about the incident.
63% lost work time avoiding the offender.
66% said that their performance declined.
78% said that their commitment to the organization declined.
12% said that they left their job because of the uncivil treatment.
25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers.
Kindness is contagious and doesn’t cost a thing.
In organisations where incivility is rife, Staff vacancy turnover, grievances and sickness is high, and staff engagement and performance is low. And yet 6 years after this article we still have an issue with incivility in organisations. Why?
I have noticed it more in organisations where the pressure is high to meet/succeed targets (sometimes unrealistic targets) and the culture is about outperforming, or competing with, other organisations or each other internally. It creates a culture of silo working, insecurity, a blame culture, a lack of trust and animosity between teams and individuals.
To enable a culture where kindness is contagious in an organisation where individuals have thrived on incivility takes time and perseverence but it is not impossible if you have the right leaders who want the culture to change for the right reasons and not seeing it as a tick box exercise.
Leaders have to be ready to lead by example, to lead the charge and deal with bad behaviour regardless of who they are. Where it’s hard to change the culture is where leaders are not prepared to have difficult conversations with their direct reports or peers about their unreasonable behaviour. Some leaders may start then give up quickly as it’s easier than persevering with it.
When staff see leaders not leading by example they’re unlikely to follow, staff engagement and performance at this point will be an all time low.
I’ve worked with leaders who want to change their culture. Being an outsider means that people can be honest about their challenges and fears and my role has often been like a cheerleader at the side line keeping leaders motivated and focused on the goal.
As a leader when you’re trying to make changes and you feel you’re the only one it can be easy to default back to the existing negative culture. Having allies, a coach, people to remind you that you’re on the right path, remind you of the end goal and that you’re doing a great job, helps you to persevere against resistance.
An organisation of incivility (poor performing, high staff turnover, toxic culture) or an organisation of civility (high performing, talent retention and engagement)? I know which one I’d prefer to work for or lead. How about you?