A lot of my posts recently have been based on the seminars and presentations I attended as part of my annual accounting conference last week. This will be the last one, I promise! At least for quite some time, anyway.
Choosing Civility was the title of a session based on the book by the same name by Dr. P.M. Forni. The session and book discuss civility in general, but I as really looking at it from a civility in the workplace perspective.
Maybe I’m sensitive because I work in a customer focussed service industry (or at least, it is supposed to be). Maybe I’m sensitive because I feel common courtesy and politeness is becoming extinct. I elected to attend this seminar because I’m becoming more and more frustrated with the lack of civility in my workplace, and am looking for coping techniques to deal with this (as opposed to just quitting, something I can’t afford to do right now).
I have Dr. Forni’s book on hold at my local library and look forward to reading it. The presenter went over a high level version of his 25 “rules” of civility. In a nutshell, old school manners, politeness, courtesy and inclusion are central themes.
Am I a civil person? Not always. I multi-task too much, responding to emails while talking on the phone. I yawn without covering my mouth sometimes. I try to be on time, but sometimes I run late. All of these seemingly small things add to incivility.
How is my workplace uncivil? Gossip is a major issue where I work.
Managers pay more attention to their Blackberry than their staff or colleagues. This one is huge; as an example at a meeting recently the senior manager who called the meeting picked up their Blackberry in the middle of the meeting and started responding to emails while others at the table were attempting to brief on issues in their departments.
Praise is often infrequent – if I haven’t heard from my manager lately I must not have screwed up, so I must be doing OK. In my opinion, this is no way to handle staff, and from my perspective, it’s no (good) way to work.
So how do I deal with this? For one thing, I model my own behaviour. I can’t change my managers, but I can make sure I practice what I preach when working with my team. I also teach my direct reports what I expect from them in how they treat our front line staff. As for my superiors, when I do leave the organization, I will attempt to be honest in my exit interview without burning too many bridges.
Maybe I’m naive. I know the perfect workplace doesn’t exist. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. But I truly believe there is better out there, and I’m ready to find it before I become too jaded.