Brianna Braden has over 20 years of HR experience in a wide variety of industries and she strives to
Updated: Mar 1, 2020
As Human Resource professionals, it can be difficult to spot and define incivility in the workplace before it becomes ingrained in an organization’s culture. Incivility can unintentionally get promoted by leadership as the informal rules of engagement if not addressed.
Creating an environment focused on respect in the workplace is key to combat incivility. Respect helps to promote trust and collaboration. Lack of respect in the workplace gets promoted by incivility which are actions by others that leave employees feeling belittled, not treated with respect, feeling undermined or having their viewpoints ignored. Incivility can be devastating to an organization that is undergoing change due to external factors and strives to embrace collaboration and trust throughout the organization.
Human Resource professionals have a responsibility to identify acts of incivility in the workplace in a way that helps the organization to address behaviors and improve employee performance. Here are three common ways to identify and address incivility in the workplace.
1. Conduct 30/60/90 check-ins with new hires: Newly hired employees are the biggest advocates of the organization’s Mission/Vision/Values and they have a keen sense of awareness of the misalignment of an organization’s culture. By conducting 30/60/90 check-ins with new hires, Human Resources will be able to pinpoint for the organization when the unwanted behaviors start to impact employees. If the organization has high turnover in the first 6 months of employment, the negative behaviors may permeate early in an employee’s tenure. Human Resources can maintain check-in points with new hires and document trends that could be used to pinpoint when employees first begin to notice incivility in the workplace.
2. Conduct focus groups: Human Resources and the CEO should conduct focus groups with employees if the organization believes it may have an incivility issue. In the focus groups, focus on the organization’s Mission/Vision/Values and exploring if it resonates with employees. Ask if the organization is walking the walk and if the organization is not what behaviors are employees seeing that do not align? Or ask employees what behaviors does the organization informally promote? Track the trends expressed in focus groups and create action plans to combat negative trends.
3. Review exit interview trends: Human Resources should look at the monthly exit interview trends and turnover data. Does the data point to or provide specific examples of certain areas within the organization that feel disrespected and/or ignored by management? Did a project, process or task fail or succeed because of management’s decision to ignore feedback at all costs including causing untended turnover? When possible use an unbiased tool to track results such as an external survey tool.
Using data and providing factual documentation along with trends and behavior traits demonstrated will help leadership systemically deal with the trends before it because ingrained in an organization’s culture. As organizations continue to be faced with external factors that require continuous internal change, incivility within an organization will likely appear. However, how quickly an organization addresses incivility is the key to employee turnover an engagement.