Archive for incivility at work

10 Ways to Make Your Employees Hate You—and Your Company

Mean Boss Yelling at Employee
Narcissistic. Rude. Insensitive. Arrogant. Something tells me you wouldn’t want to hang out with someone who matches this description, much less work for them.

The Costs to Employees

Mean bosses can wreck your work life—and your health. Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers author Robert M. Sapolsky informs us that intermittent stressors like incivility in the workplace not only take a toll on our psychological well-being but also our physiological state.

This kind of chronic stress spikes our glucocorticoid levels, compromising our immune system and ultimately leading to a bevy of health problems ranging from ulcers to heart disease, diabetes to cancer. It also makes us hungry and fat.

Women in one decade-long study, for example, were 38% more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event when subjected to job stress.

The Costs to Business

Misery and poor health are the costs to employees. According to Christine Porath and Christine Pearson, authors of Harvard Business Review article “The Price of Incivility,” the annual cost to an organization can reach the millions.

Why? When the authors polled 800 leaders and employees across 17 industries, they discovered employees responded to incivility in the workplace by:

  • Purposefully slacking off (48%)
  • Spending as little time as possible at work (47%)
  • Producing poorer-quality results (38%)
  • Taking time off due to anxiety about a specific experience (80%) or to avoid encountering an uncivil boss or colleague (63%)
  • Performing worse (66%)
  • Feeling less committed to the organization (78%)
  • Quitting their job (12%)
  • Treating customers poorly (25%)

Boorish Behavior

So what exactly are the emotionally unintelligent behaviors that trigger these responses in employees?

Christine Porath continues her exploration of incivility in The New York Times article “No Time to Be Nice at Work,” identifying the following rude actions as most frequently cited in a recent survey (ordered by frequency):

  • Interrupting others
  • Judging those perceived as different
  • Not listening to opinions
  • Giving oneself the most appealing task and allotting the tough ones to others
  • Not communicating critical details
  • Lacking standard courtesies (no “please”s or “thank-you”s)
  • Being condescending
  • Taking more credit than is due
  • Using foul language
  • Belittling people

A Failure to Communicate

An Interact/Harris Poll of 1,000 US workers revealed 91% of employees felt flawed communication was at the root of poor leadership.

Lou Solomon documents these cardinal communication sins in her Harvard Business Review article “The Top Complaints from Employees About Their Leaders.”

Below are the issues pinpointed by survey participants, ranked according to percentage:

  • Failure to recognize employee accomplishments (63%). As we explored in our series on The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (see part 1 and part 2), bosses who fail to acknowledge employees’ efforts cause them to feel unappreciated. This leads to burnout, resentment, and a decline in performance.
  • Failure to give clear guidance (57%). Vague or ambiguous directions often reveal the leader’s own incompetence and lack of clarity about the project. How can leaders effectively guide a team when they can’t even articulate their goals?
  • Failure to meet with subordinates (52%). Leaders who don’t take the time to meet with their employees lose a crucial opportunity for connection. Employees do not trust aloof managers.
  • Not bothering to talk to employees (51%). Just as lack of communication is one of the predictors of a failed relationship, so is it an indicator of ineffective leadership.
  • Taking credit for someone else’s work (47%). A boss who claims ownership of employees’ ideas undermines motivation and sows mistrust.
  • Failure to provide constructive criticism (39%). Poor managers tend to insult an employee rather than clearly identifying issues and outlining substantive feedback.
  • Not learning the names of their employees (36%). Why should an employee care about a leader’s objectives when that leader can’t even be bothered to learn her name?
  • Avoiding voice-to-voice contact (34%). Managers who are unavailable to their employees via in-person or phone meetings create a further sense of disconnection.
  • Not getting to know employees (23%). When leaders don’t take the time to chat with employees about non-work topics, employees feel as if their personal lives—and by extension, they themselves—don’t matter to their boss.

Your Stories

What are some of the emotionally unintelligent behaviors you’ve observed in leaders? I’d love to hear about your experiences with bosses from hell. On the flip side, I’d also love to hear about your experiences with bosses from heaven. We can learn from both.

Curious How You Can Change Your Workplace?

Give me a call at 541.601.0114 or email I’m happy to assess your situation and help you develop a plan to improve your work situation.

Civility Costs Nothing—and Buys Everything

Rudeness at Work

It Really Does Pay to Be the “Nice Guy”

With the science of happiness at work as a cornerstone of my business model, I am always interested in new research that illustrates how happy employees are more productive and creative, provide better customer service, are better team players, are sick less and stay longer. These days, there is a LOT of that research, and the findings continue to be consistent with these positive outcomes.

It amazes me that I still find people who resist the idea of happiness at work—or those who believe the statistics but think they don’t have the time or resources to invest in creating a workplace where happiness is part of the culture.

“Happiness at work? I’m not happy—why should anyone else be?” or “They should be happy to have a job.” or “We’re not here to be happy; we’re here to make a profit.” Then I remind them happiness at work boosts the bottom line, and their interest is piqued.

This month a new piece of research was published in the Harvard Business Review about civility and rudeness: “The Price of Incivility: Lack of Respect Hurts Morale—and the Bottom Line.” Guess what? Civility at work creates results similar to happiness at work, and rudeness at work creates results that correlate to unhappiness at work.

Kid Sticking Tongue OutDid you know rudeness at work is raging and is on the rise? According to researchers, 98 percent of workers polled said they experienced rudeness at work—with half of them experiencing it at least once a week, up from 25 percent in 1998.

Like unhappiness at work, rudeness at work undermines the bottom line. In a poll of 800 managers and employees in 17 industries, the researchers found the following statistics:

Among employees who have experienced incivility at work:

  • 48% intentionally decreased their work effort
  • 47% intentionally decreased the time they 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 their performance declined
  • 78% said their commitment to the organization declined
  • 12% said they left their job because of the uncivil treatment
  • 24% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers

Other studies have found that creativity suffers, performance and team spirit declines, and customers who witness the rude behaviors turn away. Sounds a lot like what happens with unhappiness at work.

It also sounds like a recipe for disaster—not a way to increase an organization’s profits or become known as an employer of choice. And it’s expensive! According to a study conducted by Accountemps and reported in Fortune, managers and executives at Fortune 1,000 firms spend 13 percent of their time—the equivalent of seven weeks per year—mending employee relationships and dealing with the aftermath of incivility. And just think of the costs should consultants and attorneys be brought in to help settle a situation.

So what’s a leader to do?

In managing yourself, model good behavior. After all, the leader sets the tone of the organization. You are on stage, and your supporting cast is taking cues from you. Ask for feedback—what do your employees like and dislike about your leadership style? How does that relate to civility (or happiness) at work? What can you do to shift behaviors that are perceived poorly?

Coworker ConflictAnd keep a pulse on the organization. What’s really going on, and how are people treated and treating others? You need to be connected to your workforce and constantly striving to create a culture where people feel as though they have what’s needed to succeed.

In managing the organization, hire for and reward civility. If civility is a key attribute your culture values, put it above all else. For example, at Zappos, people are hired based on fit within the culture, and the most skilled person will be passed over if their values don’t match the values Zappos has deemed essential to its core. Share those values (and make sure civility is one of them) and demonstrate what it looks like to live those values. Be specific. Tie those to individual performance assessments and rewards, and celebrate circumstances in which the values of civility and respect shine brightly.

Rude or civil? Unhappy or happy? The choice is clear. Civil, respectful cultures enjoy the same benefits as cultures where people are encouraged and given a climate where they can succeed at work—that’s when they can reach their potential.

Today’s data show creating a culture of civility and happiness is not simply the morally right thing to do, it’s also the fiscally responsible thing to do.

Contact me for more specifics or for a culture check of your organization. Let’s see how your company can become an employer of choice—a place where people feel as though their contributions matter, a place that resonates with their values, vision, passion and sense of purpose. It is possible!