Workplace Civility, Does Your Organization Have It?

Workplace Civility, Does Your Organization Have It?

Author: Dennis E. Gilbert

There are those organizations that don’t believe they need workplace civility. Often this is because they don’t recognize that there are differences between their culture and what the front runners know to be more civil.

While workplace civility is subjective, the results are often reflected in employee performance. Employee performance is reflected on the income statement. It may be hard to develop a metric for civility. However, it is easy to develop a metric for other areas of human performance.

The organization that practices civility is diverse. Not because they claim that they are, but because there is evidence that they are. Evidence would include employment of protected classes. However, that is really just the beginning and may be viewed as a technicality, not a true reflection of organizational culture.

Civil Organizational Cultures

Civil and diverse organizations work hard to keep everything and everyone together. Their habits are consistent with what they preach. Conflict is well managed. Patience is a core value, and if you can’t handle what is happening, a team member will be sure to help.

An underlying philosophy may be that we help each other do well and that is why we are growing.

Room for Improvement

An organizational culture lacking in civility will see things a little bit differently. They often have principles and core values connected with only the strong survive. Rewards are only at the top, bottom feeders are accepted as feeders only, and are feed just enough to prevent starvation.

There is harmful conflict. Those who can’t handle it, are not helped or reinforced, they are told to get out of the way and ridiculed for short-comings. Only the favorites or those who navigate organizational politics well are long-term survivors.

Workplace Civility

Certainly, organizations need all the demographic evidence. Evidence such as hiring across all classes including those that are protected. Yes, they’ll have the diversity posters in the lunch room and near the Human Resources offices, and of course, they’ll express no tolerance for harassment or bullying.

They’ll insist on safety, and they’ll understand that the person who occupies space at the workplace the longest is not necessarily accomplishing the most.

Meal breaks are honored, or better yet, insisted upon. Not because the organization feels that they should, but because they know it makes human performance better and the people healthier. The idea of skipping lunch means I’m working harder doesn’t apply.

Vacations are embraced, generosity is demonstrated, and the importance of family is well supported.

None of this means the people don’t work hard and none of it suggests that there is room for slackers. It is only a reflection of civility. Does your organization practice workplace civility?

A good question is, “What is your culture?”  A better question is, “What is your culture when you think no one is watching?”


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

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