With colorful petals radiating from a bright orange center, the mandala Circle of Art rug represents the universe and all its connectivity. For members of the high school's National Art Honor Society, it's also a way of connecting with a program
Incivility can fracture a team, destroying collaboration, splintering members’ sense of psychological safety, and hampering team effectiveness. Belittling and demeaning comments, insults, backbiting, and other rude behavior can deflate confidence, sink trust, and erode helpfulness — even for those who aren’t the target of these behaviors.
A recent study documented how incivility diminishes collaboration and performance in medical settings. Twenty-four medical teams from four neonatal intensive care units in Israel were invited to a training workshop designed to improve quality of care. As part of the training, the teams needed to treat a premature infant whose condition suddenly deteriorated due to a serious intestinal illness (it was only a simulation; no infant’s health was endangered). Staff had to identify and diagnose the condition and administer proper treatment, including CPR. Teams were told that an expert from the United States would be watching them remotely (with video) and would occasionally comment and advise them. That “expert” was a member of the research team. Half the teams received messages from a neutral expert who spoke about the importance of training and practice using simulations but did not comment on their work quality. The other half received insulting messages about their performance and the “poor quality” of Israeli medical care.
Researchers filmed these simulations and had objective judges evaluate them. The teams exposed to rudeness displayed lower capabilities in all diagnostic and procedural performance metrics, markedly diminishing the infant’s chances of survival. This was mainly because teams exposed to rudeness didn’t share information as readily and stopped seeking help from their teammates.
I frequently see that situation echoed in my research: People who lack a sense of psychological safety — the feeling that the team environment is a trusting, respectful, and safe place to take risks — shut down, often without realizing it. They are less likely to seek or accept feedback and less likely to experiment, discuss errors, and speak up about potential or actual problems. Even without an intimidator in the room, they work in a cloud of negativity and are unable to do their best.
Once incivility occurs, it’s easy for negative thoughts to seep into people’s heads and stay there, translating into negative behavior. In experiments I’ve done, I’ve found that once people are exposed to rudeness, they are three times less likely to help others and their willingness to share drops by more than half. It makes sense: When someone behaves poorly or offensively, bad feelings spread and behaviors escalate, sometimes becoming aggressive or dysfunctional.
Even relatively minor incidents — when people thoughtlessly put down others, for instance, or publicly question their capabilities — leave an imprint, whittling away at them, their performance, and their well-being. As a mathematical model developed by Yale psychologists Adam Bear and David Rand shows, people who are typically surrounded by jerks learn intuitively to be selfish and to not deliberate over their actions. They wind up acting selfishly even when cooperating would pay off because they don’t stop to think.
A little civility goes a long way, enhancing a team’s performance by increasing the amount of psychological safety that people feel. One experiment of mine showed that psychological safety was 35% higher when people were offered a suggestion civilly than uncivilly (i.e., in an interaction marked by inconsiderate interruption). Other research has shown that psychological safety improves general team performance. Studying more than 180 of its active teams, Google found that who was on a team mattered less than how team members interacted, structured their work, and viewed their contributions. Employees on teams with more psychological safety were more likely to make use of their teammates’ ideas and less likely to leave Google. They generated more revenue for the company and were rated as “effective” twice as often by executives.
Leaders set the tone. A study of cross-functional product teams revealed that when leaders treated members of their team well and fairly, the team members were more productive individually and as a team. They also were more likely to go above and beyond their job requirements. It all starts at the top. When leaders are civil, it increases performance and creativity, allows for early mistake detection and the initiative to take actions, and reduces emotional exhaustion.
Civility helps teams to function better in large part by helping employees feel safer, happier, and better. In my study of over 20,000 employees, those who felt respected by their leader reported 92% greater focus and prioritization and 55% more engagement.
By creating a civil climate, you can enable greater collaboration marked by people who reciprocate respectful behavior. Recent research by Google’s Kathryn Dekas and colleagues shows how the climate affects organizational citizenship behaviors. If you want people to collaborate better and give more, consider the climate, the leader’s role modeling, and the team norms.
It’s important to note that you can’t simply impose civility. Engage employees in an ongoing conversation, defining precisely what civility means. You will garner more support and empower employees to hold one another accountable for civil behavior by involving them in the process.
Organizations of all kinds can benefit from talking about civility with employees. In the Irvine, California, office of law firm Bryan Cave, managing partner Stuart Price and I led employees through an exercise in which they could define collective norms. We asked employees: “Who do you want to be?” And we asked them to name rules for which they were willing to hold one another accountable — what norms were right for their organization. In just over an hour, employees generated and agreed on 10 norms. The firm embraced these norms and bound them into a “civility code,” which they prominently display in their lobby. As Price attests to, the civility code was directly responsible for the firm being ranked number one among Orange County’s best places to work.
It’s not enough to frame norms; you have to train employees to understand and respect them. When asked why they were uncivil, more than 25% of people in a survey I conducted blamed their organization for not providing them with the basic skills they needed, such as listening and feedback skills. If your employees aren’t behaving well, and you’ve already gone through the trouble of hammering home the organization’s civility message, ask yourself, “Have I equipped them to succeed?” Don’t assume everyone knows how to be civil; many people never learned the basic skills.
Some leading companies offer formal civility training. Microsoft’s popular “Precision Questioning” class teaches participants to question their own ideas; develop approaches to healthy, constructive criticism; and act with emotional agility even in tense situations. At a hospital in Los Angeles, temperamental doctors are required to attend “charm school” to decrease their brashness and reduce the potential for lawsuits. The charm school teaches doctors that they must set the tone for their medical residents.
Paying attention to your team’s level of civility is worth the effort. It enhances collaboration and performance. Consider adjusting norms as needed or providing training if members are missing the mark.
On my leadership journey, I’ve learned many formative and fundamental lessons about developing character, competence, performance, and relationships — 12 to be exact. Among the most important truths I’ve learned is that whatever behaviors we want to see manifested in others — we must start by modeling the desired behavior with our own actions. We can’t expect high-character, high-competence contributors if we are not sufficiently dedicated to being high-character, high-competence leaders.
One of the best ways I’ve found to lay the groundwork for building productive working relationships, and modeling desired behavior, is through a practice called Declaring Yourself (lesson 7 of my essential 12). This one highly effective habit jump starts our relationships so that we grow and achieve together with greater trust and more efficiency.
The premise of the practice is simple: the people with whom you work are not mind readers. You can never assume they will understand your intentions. But you can be sure that, absent any other information to help inform their impression of you, they will carefully observe your behavior and make judgements about your character and competence. A narrative about who you are, and how you operate, will begin to emerge in their mind whether or not it is accurate. Likewise, an image about the other party will begin to take shape in your head, as the working relationship slowly develops. Oftentimes, productivity in this early stage of a working relationship is stagnant or slowed as both parties try to suss each other out, and solve the “puzzle” of who the other person is and how they get things done. Sometimes, the conclusions reached are inaccurate and other times misconceptions prevent one or both parties from efficiently advancing the goals of the enterprise.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously backed a plan to expand juvenile diversion programs that seek to keep kids out of the criminal justice system. Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn proposed the more comprehensive approach. “While there are a number of promising programs, access to them and their accompanying services, like …
One solution for these growing tensions is restorative justice. Howard Zehr, a restorative justice scholar, describes it as a way to handle conflict and wrongdoing by engaging everyone involved, allowing them to address the full range of harms that occurred and work together to develop a plan for accountability and healing.
Often mistakenly seen as a lenient approach, restorative justice is less accepted in the United States as it is in other nations. In this country, justice focuses on retribution. Getting tough on crime is punishment focused. Approaches to crime that are not heavy-handed and authoritarian are dismissed as ineffective and lenient.
This perceived lenience, however, is the greatest misconception about restorative justice. Peaceful reactions, strengthening relationships, developing a sense of responsibility and righting wrongs are not accomplished easily.
Utilizing savings from Proposition 47, Yolo County officials are busy crafting a new restorative justice program with a little help from the community. Exactly who will be served by this program and its overall reach were among the questions raised during a presentation earlier this week, which welcomed feedback from county residents on what services they would like to see. Similar meetings were held in Woodland and West Sacramento. Specifically, the county is going after a $6 million grant — distributed over three years — funded by savings garnered by Prop. 47 and distributed by the California Board of State and Community Corrections. Approved by voters in November 2014, Prop. 47 calls for treating offenses such as shoplifting, forgery, fraud, possession of small amounts of drugs and petty theft as misdemeanors instead of felonies with the aim of decreasing jail populations, or at least saving the space for those who committed more serious crimes. One of the concerns in terms of drug offenses in particular is that individuals with substance-use disorders would be less likely to get treatment, and more likely to reoffend, creating what Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig has called a “revolving door for low-level arrests.” Two years after its passage, Prop. 47 now presents an opportunity to offset this through program funding. From the start, one of the proposition’s promises was that statewide savings from the measure would one day help fund rehabilitation efforts to help keep people out from behind bars. This would include programs that offer mental health services, substance-use disorder treatment and diversion opportunities, along with housing and job-skills training. Now, Yolo County officials are at work designing the perfect program, poised to finalize their grant proposal by the fast-approaching deadline.
A mediation program designed to help LAPD officers and residents understand each other better is largely successful when both sides agree to meet, according to a department report to be delivered Tuesday to the Los Angeles Police Commission.
But cops and residents often choose not to engage in face-to-face mediation.
The three-year pilot program, established in 2014, sought to “influence the way employees communicate and treat people, as well as give community members a better understanding of law enforcement practices,” according to the report. Mediation was “an informal process” in which officers and the people complaining about them would meet “face-to-face with impartial mediators to discuss the alleged misconduct.”
The idea would be to reach a “mutually agreeable resolution,” instead of sending the complaint through a formal process where the department dismisses it entirely or the officer could face formal discipline. Complaints involving suspected bias and/or discourtesy – not more serious conduct like excessive use of force – were eligible.
The report found of the 363 eligible complaints, 73 resulted in meetings between officers and residents over the three-year period that ended Dec. 31. Why didn’t the two sides seek mediation more often?
Most of the time, either the officer or resident had no interest in meeting with each other.
In 2016, nearly half of officers demanded a full investigation of the complaint. Nearly a fifth of officers wanted to “avoid the other party,” according to the report.
Among residents who filed complaints in 2016, about a quarter wanted a full investigation. Another fifth said it was “too much bother” to meet with the officer.
But when the angry resident meets with the man or woman who wears a badge, mediation appears to work.
Of 185 survey responses, 155 participants were either satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the process, according to the LAPD report. And two-thirds of the officers and residents who participated said their understanding of the other party increased after mediation.
The department plans to continue the program and, as more and more officers wear body cameras, make that footage available for viewing as part of the mediation.
Student suspensions in the Rochester City School District were down 38 percent in the first three months of the school year, continuing a promising trend as the district commits more attention to the problem of heavy-handed student discipline.
There were 1,905 suspensions issued from September to November 2016, compared with 3,073 in 2015 and 4,313 in 2013.
There was also a large drop in the number of weapons found or confiscated: 44 in 2016, compared with 154 in 2015.
In a presentation to the school board's Excellence in Student Achievement committee in December, Deputy Superintendent Kendra March attributed the improvements to the continuing roll-out of restorative justice practices and the institution of "help zones," where students can spend a few moments to collect themselves before they do something they'll regret.
A lawsuit that accuses the King County Sheriff’s Office and some of its top administrators of bias and an array of other allegations has cost county taxpayers nearly $1 million in private attorneys’ fees and additional expenses, with the tally continuing to rise as the case heads toward trial.
The bulk of money spent to date to defend against the suit brought by one current and two fired sheriff’s deputies — about $837,000 — has been paid to Winterbauer & Diamond, a Seattle law firm specializing in employment and labor law, according to an accounting provided this month by the King County Office of Risk Management.
Rob Duke's insight:
An ADR/Mediation system would have been cheaper in the long run....
Save your sanity and don't ignore these danger signals in the interview process.
1. Your future boss speaks poorly about current staff in the interview. In the interview with my prospective boss, he was very negative towards his current team in the way he talked about them. He used flattery towards me while at the same time putting down the competency of his current team. Consider this quote from Gregg Stocker, author of Avoiding the Corporate Death Spiral: Ask what the company's problems are and what their causes might be. If the answers to these questions consist of blaming others in the organization, especially those on his or her team, the person lacks trust in others.
2. Your future boss comes across as a narcissist. If your boss keeps talking about how great he or she is during the interview, it might be a sign of self-absorption. Working for a self-absorbed boss ensures that your work will go largely unnoticed and he or she will use every opportunity to take credit for any of your successes, without giving you the credit deserved.
3. The interviewer is late. The second interviewer was a senior manager. He showed up 15 minutes late for the interview. This individual appeared disorganized, and it seemed like he had not even reviewed my résumé before the meeting. I was struck by just how unprofessional the interviewer was.
4. The company has a history of high turnover. Make sure to do some research regarding the turnover rate for not only the company you are applying for but also the specific position. A good starting point is Glassdoor.com. It will enable you to see what the company's current and former employees are saying anonymously. If you want to take it a step further, you could even do an advanced search on LinkedIn to find employees in your position and reach out to them for feedback. Most people are happy to help out, and if you're headed for a train wreck, they will gladly give you a heads up. To my credit, I did do research. However, once again, I ignored the warning signs.
5. They put a lot of pressure on you to take the position. In my case, my prospective employer put a lot of pressure on me to take the job. It was like they were trying too hard to close a deal. I got emails and phone calls practically begging me to go to work there. Then they put an aggressive deadline on me that forced me to make a decision much faster than I was comfortable with.
6. You're not sure if your values align with the company. If, after going through the interview process and doing research on the company, you are questioning the company's values, think long and hard about whether or not you will be able to be happy working at a company where your personal values may conflict with the company's way of doing business. Weigh how much of a conflict it will be, and whether or not it is worth the compromise you would have to make. Trust your gut on this one. Initially, I got a bad feeling regarding this company's culture. I talked myself into thinking otherwise by rationalizing their poor behavior.
7. The offer letter contains errors. When I received my offer letter, it was $5,000 less than what had been offered to me over the phone. I quickly pointed out the discrepancy to their HR coordinator and they fixed it. However, again, this was a sign of things to come in regard to the way it did business, not only with its employees but its customers as well.
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