How to address workplace incivility

Managers must make it known that the team will not accept uncivil conduct and then be prepared to take action. [iStockphoto]

Workplace incivility can be defined as deviant workplace behaviour of low intensity that includes rudeness, discourtesy, impoliteness, or violation of work norms. People engaging in uncivil behaviour may not necessarily have bad or harmful intent but need to be curtailed.

Below are a few tips to deal with workplace incivility:

  1. Create a model that values civility

When it comes to creating a civility model, employers should develop policies and codes of conduct. It should be designed in a way to encourage employees and engage them positively. Leaders must demonstrate the behaviour patterns that they want to see in their teammates.

Those standards should be communicated to employees to understand how to show consistent respect and concern for others i.e. no loud tones, no lashing comments, no door smashing, and no complaining about others. Workers who practise civility should be recognized and rewarded so that they all see it as a significant contribution.

  1. Increase awareness of workplace incivility.

 Leaders must develop awareness by describing what incivility is in the workplace. You should explain what it looks like, and share its impacts after thorough research. It will highlight the urgency, resolve, and tackle the problem before it gets out of hand.

  1. Ignore excuses.

When employees raise complaints, press them to describe the issue entirely. He/she can present some valid points, so never dismiss or write off what they have to say. Any excuse on your part will make the employee feel uncomfortable and excluded.

It would help if you encouraged the employees to express their dissatisfaction when witnessing rude behaviour. It can be face-to-face conversations, email communication, or virtual contact via telephone or video meetings. Create a culture that will ensure that you care and are concerned for your employees

  1. Address disciplinary cases and measures if any.

Managers need to pay attention and get better at letting rude people know it's not okay. If you don't hold the perpetrator accountable, the incivility will grow, and negative attitudes will spread through the team.

If you really want to confront, ask yourself: Do you feel in control of the situation before you speak to the person? Prepare for a debate. Think of a nice time and setting that will make you more relaxed. Be prepared for an emotional reaction.

Managers must make it known that the team will not accept uncivil conduct and then be prepared to take action. On witnessing incivility, you might need to take disciplinary actions as well.

  1. Encourage feedback from employees.

Feedback on an individual basis can really shape a work environment - Christopher Rosen.

Organizational leaders must build a healthy work atmosphere such that workers would not be afraid to raise concerns. A proper communication channel can help in giving and receiving clear feedback on what workplace civil behaviours are expected.

  1. Look at the bigger picture.

Current events, such as political debates, social problems, protests, and strikes may cause frustration and lead workers to lose concentration. They become upset, act out, and might also take to workplace bullying. News channels, public figures, and their negative have a long-lasting impact on business and your employees.

As a manager or employer, your aim should be to avoid the outside world in your workplace. It would help if you talked to the employees who look stressed and distracted by an external factor. You should offer your company’s Employee Assistance Program for workers who show anxiety, or distress due to outside issues.