Thursday, April 18, 2019

Civility in the Workplace Part 5

Civility is one of the best ways to deal with difficult personalities in the workplace.

Civility sets the stage for effective communication.  In many ways, dealing with difficult personalities is simply a matter of setting and negotiating boundaries.  After all, difficult personalities are not “bad people.”  They just have a fixed way of relating and may need feedback from peers in order to adjust.

Civility creates a positive atmosphere that allows people to see beyond the obvious implications of behavior.  For example, many "difficult personalities" are simply people who have needs that are not being addressed.  You may see your co-worker as annoying when he or she simply craves attention and recognition.  It’s also possible that your difficult co-worker is merely channeling anger and frustration from his/her personal life into the workplace.  When you engage in civil behavior with your co-worker, you provide more opportunities for supportive interaction and empathy.

Cost and Rewards

While incivility can be perceived as innocuous behavior, it can significantly affect the company’s bottom line. Incivility has a direct impact on company productivity, sales, and customer retention among others. Civility, on the other hand, can improve all these areas and help create a high-performance organization.

Until next time...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Civility in the Workplace Part 4

What may be considered a difficult personality?

The answer is subjective.  A difficult personality for one person need not be a difficult personality for another. Usually, though, people perceived as difficult are those who manifest inflexible extremes of personality traits.  For instance, while being controlling is a desirable trait in a manager, being excessively controlling would just make the people under the manager’s care feel stifled and even abused.  Recognition of the need to consult co-workers about major company decisions is a good thing, but when an employee consults everyone else on almost everything to the point that the constant “consultation” is already dependency in disguise, then the person becomes difficult to work with.

When working with a difficult personality, most people’s immediate response is an unhelpful one: a response aimed more at relieving personal stress than creating a more workable relationship.  For example, there is a tendency to avoid dominant personality types, lecture the overly-dependent, and exact vengeance on the passive-aggressive.  The result is an endless cycle of dysfunctional relating that creates more problems than it solves.

Until next time...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Civility in the Workplace Part 3

It’s worth noting: civility goes beyond mere good manners.

Civility is about effective self-awareness and effective social awareness.  You can’t be an effective practitioner of civility until you recognize your place in the general scheme of things and you develop an appreciation for the unique contribution of all else around.  It’s a delicate balance between pursuing self-interest and practicing self-control in order for others and the organization to pursue their interests well.  For this reason, effective programs on civility must be prefaced by training on attentiveness to self and others.

Dealing with Difficult Personalities

A huge source of stress at work is the need to adjust to different personalities.  Each person is unique, and even when you’re dealing with a responsible and emotionally-mature co-worker, friction is inevitable simply because the other person will never be 100% similar to you.  However, the stress of interacting with co-workers is multiplied when the other person doesn’t just have a different personality but also a difficult one.

Until next time...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Civility in the Workplace Part 2

What behaviors can be considered uncivil? 
Here are some examples:  
  • Failing to acknowledge another person’s presence: Ignoring other people’s greetings and well-wishes; walking past a co-worker without so much as a nod or a greeting.
  • Using abusive language: Being verbally abusive or using crude language
  • Gossiping: Instigating and spreading rumors about another person, regardless of whether the “news” seems accurate or relevant to the accomplishment of the task at hand.
  • Discounting an employee's contribution: Deliberately downplaying or ignoring the importance of another person’s statement or work contribution.  For instance, some members in a team may tend to cut off a person that they do not like during a brainstorming session. Taking credit --- or worse, compensation --- for work that you did not do is also an example of discounting behavior.
  • Bullying and intimidating co-workers: Threatening violence against co-workers who report timesheet irregularities to management; leveraging the power of cliques in order to ostracize particular individuals.
  • Sabotaging individual and company efforts: Intentionally not informing a co-worker who is competing for a promotion of the exact time a client will arrive in the building.
  • Discriminating against a particular individual or group: Attacking an individual based on intrinsic characteristics such as race, gender, age, mental ability, and physical appearance.
  • Practicing insensitivity against co-workers’ needs: Inability to pay attention to the feelings and needs of others, e.g. not giving a grieving co-worker time off before demanding workplace attendance. Insensitivity may also come in the form of engaging in activities distracting to co-workers, e.g. taking a cell phone call while in the middle of a meeting, not cleaning up the whiteboard as one leaves the training room, and demanding attention from subordinates outside of the prescribed working hours.
  • Practicing poor etiquette in dealing with correspondence: Ignoring phone calls and emails, using company email to send private messages, and discussing individuals in mailing lists as if they are not there.
Until next time...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Civility in the Workplace Part 1

Failing to smile at co-workers or even just a tendency to smirk at a client’s unusual request may not seem like much at first glance.  However, these seemingly innocuous behaviors can be costly in the long run.  It’s important to be appraised of the nature of civility, its behavioral indicators, and why its practice is imperative within an organization.

What is Uncivil Behavior?

Civility represents the social norms and rules that must be followed in order to positively and productively relate with others.  When people hear the word “civility,” words that come to mind include respect, courtesy, tolerance, consideration, and a rational approach to conflicts.  Behaviors that threaten positive and productive relations with other people, therefore, constitute uncivil behaviors.

You can be uncivil without meaning to be.  For example, you may simply assume that what’s acceptable in one social context (say, at your old workplace or at your home) is acceptable across all contexts.  You can also be uncivil intentionally, e.g., you verbally attack a co-worker whose behavior annoys you.

Until next time...


Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Strategic Decision-Making Part 3

Barriers to good decision-making include: 
  • Jumping into the decision
    • Fix: Stop and frame the decision   Think about what is involved.
  • Shortsighted shortcuts
    • Fix: Don’t rely on rules of thumb that anchor your thinking and decision-making.
  • Shooting from the hip
    • Fix: Follow a systematic process.
  • Lack of frame control
    • Fix: Do not be unduly influenced by others; consciously define your own frame.
  • Frame blindness
    • Fix: Frame the problem correctly to ensure that your mental framework is not causing you to overlook issues.
  • Ignoring feedback
    • Fix: Actively seek and analyze feedback on past experiences in reality, not ego.
  • Group failure
    • Fix: Do not assume that a group of good people will always make a good decision; follow the process.
  • Over-confidence in your judgment
    • Fix: Collect information, analyze it, and ask questions
  • Not Keeping Track
    • Fix: Log and analyze all results from decisions taken, and learn from the experience to improve future decision-making
  • Failure to audit the decision-making process
    • Fix: Create an organized approach that allows mistakes to be highlighted and improvements to be evaluated consistently.

Remember that decision-making is a process that can be developed and learned.  Techniques are available and can be used qualitatively or quantitatively.  Barriers can block effective decisions.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Strategic Decision-Making Part 2

The outcome of the process should be a solution that allows the organization to succeed.

There are six criteria for an effective decision-making process:
  • The focus is on what is important
  • The process is logical and consistent
  • It accounts for objective and subjective factors and uses both analytical and intuitive thinking
  • It requires only as much information as is necessary to make the decision
  • It encourages and guides information-gathering
  • It is straightforward, flexible, and user-friendly
There are 8 elements involved in making a smart decision:
  • Identifying the problem
  • Identifying the objectives
  • Identifying the alternatives
  • Identifying the consequences
  • Identifying the tradeoffs
  • Working in the context of uncertainty
  • Working in the context of risk tolerance
  • Working in the context of linked decisions
  • The Meta-Decision:
    • understanding the problem
    • identifying the basic nature of the decision to be made
    • deciding which process will be used
There are 4 basic components that form the overall decision-making process: 
  • Framing
    • Realizing and understanding the boundaries that are set on the problem
    • Defining reference points to gauge success or failure of the decision
    • Defining the metrics for the process
  • Gathering intelligence
  • Coming to conclusions
  • Learning from feedback 
Until next time...

Sheryl Tuchman, SPHR, SHRM-SCP