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Best Practices Growth Management Personal Development

Workplace Civility Starts with Management


Most Americans would agree that we’re living in an increasingly uncivil society. Our incivility is now invading the workplace, and bad behavior is demoralizing managers and employees. If you want to do something about this negative trend, listen to what Christine Porath has to say.

I recently interviewed Dr. Porath, an associate professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University and the author of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace, on an episode of my podcast Manage Smarter.

Porath suggests that managers increase awareness of their own civility. Managers often don’t realize that simply checking their phones during a one-on-one can be seen as rude. Porath urges managers “to ask people they work with about how they could improve their effectiveness. They should also ask which of their habits rub employees the wrong way.”

While they’re at it, managers should solicit feedback across the organization. Once you hear about how your habits and behaviors impact others, reflect on what was said. If people say you have a sharp tone in your email, think about how to change. For example, maybe you’ve been firing back responses to emails when you’ve been stressed. Are you always a bit stressed in the afternoons? If so, don’t respond to email until the morning, when you’re feeling energetic and positive.

Remember that uncivil behavior on the part of a manager can result in a big hit to the bottom line. Porath’s research shows that when managers act like their computers or phones are more important than anything else, employees react negatively. They:

  • Cut back on work effort: 66%
  • Worry about the incident: 80%
  • Leave the organization: 12%


Besides demonstrating their own commitment to civil behavior, managers should be on the lookout for employees who are rude and condescending. Some employees may act that way directly to their managers, while others are only rude to co-workers. If you want to curtail this kind of behavior, pull the offending person aside for a private chat. Explain how their behavior is hurting company culture and their personal reputations.

Another path toward a civil workplace is to establish a formal policy. Your policy could address topics that frustrate team members. For example, employees should show up on time for work. They should behave courteously to everyone in meetings. And they should nip their other rude tendencies in the bud.

Managers must showcase their commitment to civil behavior if they want to see change in their workplace.

Growth Management Personal Development

How Leaders Can Tap Into Team’s Internal Motivations

You may have heard the phrase, “Logic makes you think; emotion makes you act.”  As I often do, I thought about the truth of this certain statement in the context of improving leadership skills.

You may be protesting at your computer: But there’s no place for emotion in business! Oh contraire, mon ami!

Hey executive leaders, a big part of what you do is influencing people to perform and produce; to get the job done with and through others. Since you can’t actually motivate people on your own – all people are already motivated for their own reasons – what you can do is tap into their internal motivations. How do you do that?

Imagine your main goal is for your team to work safely and have zero accidents or injuries. You can lecture, preach, and admonish them to work safely until your face turns an unhealthy shade of blue. Or you could tap into their internal motivations. For example, if you’re talking to a family man you could remind him of why he wants to work safely – namely so he can get back home to his family, new baby, etc.

As with anything that produces great results, tapping into emotions and internal motivations of your team members will take a tad more effort on your part. Isn’t that why they pay you the medium-sized bucks? You will have to get to know them and figure out what is important to each individual. If getting to know your team members sounds painful and boring, try a few of these “Southern” questions to ask to keep conversation light and airy. Just by this practice alone you will subsequently increase employee engagement!

As an executive leader, what is your goal? Do you want your tribe to just think about doing something, or do you want them to take action? If taking action, changes in behavior, increased performance and productivity are your goals, I suggest you tap into your team members’ emotions.


  • How do you influence people to perform and produce?
  • What technique works for you in getting employees to take action?
  • Please leave a comment below and share your insights with the community.


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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems