This is my personal pet peeve: Rudeness. Much of the time it is a mindless, stressed, rushed person that pollutes the air at work, either omitting the basic manners we’re taught as children or steam rolling by in a self-involved fog. Certainly we have ALL been there. However, in addition to increased stress, time wasted, decrease in creativity & ability to solve problems, the negative impact affects morale, productivity, quality of life and did I mention productivity? There are two great articles on this topic: A blog post on the Harvard Business Review, You’re Rude Because Your Boss is Rude, and an article in the HBR January 2013 magazine, The Price of Incivility. Is this a pervasive problem? According to the HBR poll from that article, 98% of thousands of workers polled “reported experiencing uncivil behavior at work. In 2011 half said they were treated rudely at least once a week.” The HBR study found “Among workers who’ve been on the receiving end of incivility, 48% intentionally decreased their work effort, 47% intentionally decreased time spent at work, 80% lost work time worrying about the incident, 66% said their performance declined, 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work, 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers…” Here’s another article from Forbes Magazine that highlights our technology and information overload that contributes to stress and overwhelm. In it, psychiatrist Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., says “the accelerated pace of office life has us made us lose touch with common courtesies once taken for granted, like saying, “Good morning.”
We are in the hospitality industry. (Hospitality: the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.) I strongly believe that our colleagues, co-workers, clients, (both B2B & B2C) and community are the front line recipients for that hospitality, which starts with polite behavior. As part of the sales & marketing industry, I know developing brand advocates and devotees is a successful path to profitability. That means converting the company people 100% to your brand first and then from there expanding your reach to everyone who comes in contact with your company, your product, your service, your brand. One excellent example of this philosophy is articulately written and practiced by ING Direct founder Arkadi Kuhlmann: “It’s not leaders who drive business; it’s the culture they create, and sustain, that drives it.” This is expanded upon in his book The Orange Code and has become Kuhlmann’s calling card, his brand. I had friends that worked at ING Direct for Mr. Kuhlmann. They all said that after their orientation, “we bled orange for that company. It was the best place to work.” Can you imagine the employees’ increased desire to succeed, to be there, to achieve, to totally ‘kill it’ when it came to doing their job for that company?
A few basics on civil behavior at work.
Bury your face in a computer or smart phone during conversations or presentations.
Gossip, spread misinformation, tell inappropriate jokes or stories.
Groom yourself at work beyond the basic touch ups. (ok, maybe this is an odd one, but seriously people, taking your whitening trays out of your mouth at the lunch table is gross)
I realize this barely scratches the surface when it comes to elevating our behavior, our branding, our success at work and the atmosphere we create. The reference links to books, blogs and articles offer meaningful depth into the subject. There’s a lot to think about when it comes to civility at work. We have gender, cultural and generational differences that can demand slight but distinct differences in behavior. Awareness is key. Managers at every level are unaware of reasonable guidelines and their own infractions. So we have to not only learn, teach and model polite behavior (or hospitality), but also acknowledge, reward and prioritize it. Is it part of performance evaluations, hiring interviews, event reviews/debriefs? In conclusion, because we are in the hospitality, lifestyle business, it can not be emphasized enough that high quality civility, hospitality and good manners MUST be a priority at work. Why? Quality of life, better productivity, improved creativity, insightful problem solving, greater customer retention, greater employee retention, healthier atmosphere, decreased stress, and perhaps most meaningful to those in charge: significantly higher profitability.
What do you think?