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The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It

Whether it's a standoffish co-worker or an arrogant boss, incivility at the office doesn't just affect the moods of a few employees - it hurts an entire company. 12 percent of all employees say... This description may be from another edition of this product.


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Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Yes, bad behavior is unpleasant, but it is also expensive. You CAN fix it.

You've seen it. I've seen it. Too many people seem clueless about treating other people with respect and dignity. They act as if other people are not just a nuisance, but really have no purpose in the job or life beyond what they used for. Not only is this bad for everyone involved, it is costly to your business. Christine Pearson and Christine Porath not only help you identify this rising tide of incivility, what it subtracts from your business, but also what you can do to turn things around. Part one provides you with many examples of what incivility is. While I hope you won't see your own behaviors in the list, I am sure you will be able to call to mind many examples of people who behave in these awful ways. They also show you how CISCO calculated their cost of incivility and provide you with a worksheet. The roots of this problem have many points of origin including the increasingly indulgent style of parenting used for the past fifty years, but you can also see a coarsening in our media, our social interactions, and the rise in stress levels for everyone. Part two discuses the negative effects incivility has on personal, team, and company performance. There are also cumulative effects that make stress worse and lead to burnout and the loss of valuable employees. Incivility also damages the reputations of not only those engaging in the bad acts, but also spreads its stink and dirt to anyone even near those acts. Part three shows you how other companies have dealt with this problem. You can be sure that just publishing guidelines will not work. You must create a culture that demands and rewards civility and is exemplified in the conduct of company management from the very top down. Chapter 13 provides you with ten things you can do to create such a civil culture. The authors also provide chapters on what a leader, a target, an offender, and even society should do. A most useful and helpful book that I hope will not only be widely read, but widely implemented. Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI

Evidenced Based Information that Bad Behaviors Have an Impact on Performance

What a great and fast read. What I liked was the evidence presented by the authors about the costs of bad behaviors in our organizations. One fact that resonated was the high percentage of people who will get back at the offendor. We see these exchanges going on in our organizations every day, often masked as organizational politics. Often it is the executive team that has to be convinced of the price that the organization pays when bad actors are allowed to behave in an uncivil disruptive manner. What can be a challenge is convincing management that the highly competent person (in terms of their technical ability to get the work done) with disruptive behaviors is detrimental. In fact there is a price to pay and oftentimes these people make the team 30 - 40 % less productive. A colleague bought this book for the entire senior team as a way to address some disruptive behaviors in the company. Personally I site this book all of the time in my work.

Do you exhibit Bad Behavior?

When I first picked up The Cost of Bad Behavior I thought thank goodness I have never worked in an environment in which incivility was tolerated or accepted. As I read further I quickly realized that many of the environments in which I have worked have been full of incivility. Incivility is easy to recognize when we see it played out in the political arena - remember the response after the joint session of congress when Senator Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted to President Obama "You lie!"? In his apology Wilson stated "...I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility..." We see bad behavior play out in other public domains - how about the bad behavior of Kanye West during the 2009 MTV awards when he jumped on stage during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech and declared that Beyonce should have received the award? Unfortunately his apology didn't seem to acknowledge his own lack of civility. In both of these instances there was public outcry about the behavior that was exhibited. But how many times do we witness or experience (or perpetrate?) incivility in the workplace when there is no public to cry out for an apology and demand a change in behavior? How many times do we experience bad behavior and don't even recognize it as such? Pearson and Porath provide much evidence that bad behavior is indeed alive and well in organizations. They take us through the history of incivility and build the case that incivility is pervasive and increasing in frequency. In addition to a concise definition ("incivility is the exchange of seemingly inconsequential inconsiderate words and deeds that violate conventional norms of workplace conduct") the authors provide an extensive list of examples of workplace incivility. Get ready to recognize some of these behaviors - they're not as uncommon as you may think! The authors also present a discussion on the costs of bad behavior. Costs of bad behavior include decreased individual/team performance, stress/burnout, turnover, and damage to the reputation of the organization. However, the most compelling information is the case study of a Fortune 100 company that calculated the dollar costs of incivility (examples of cost worksheets are included). In an environment in which organizations are paying greater attention to the return on their investments, it would behoove leaders to pay attention to, and measure, the costs of organizational cultures that tolerate, and at times, promote bad behavior. This research is a great first step in guiding those who are interested in creating and maintaining healthy successful organizations. The research could not be more timely!

Rude Awakening

Clear and compelling--this book sets forth the costs that we all pay for tolerating bad behavior where we work. Using their exhaustive research and a wealth of real-life stories, Pearson and Porath define what workplace incivility is, how subtle it can be, and how costly it is to the organization, to the people involved, and even to bystanders. The authors make it very clear that the price tag is large and quantifiable. In their final chapters, they explore ways of recognizing and responding to the signs of incivility, but they don't pretend that the fix is easy. They offer no pat answers. Pearson and Porath draw many of their examples from the corporate world, but this is not just a problem in the private sector. I have worked for nearly 30 years in school systems large and small and can attest to the fact that incivility looms large in the public sector too. This book should be on the desk of all education leaders, as well as their business counterparts. The book is well written and very readable. At the end of each chapter, Pearson and Porath include a chapter summary they call Rude Awakenings. A broader discussion of this often hidden issue might be an awakening for many leaders. This book offers the platform for that discussion.

How to eliminate toxic waste in the workplace

As Christine Pearson and Christine Porath acknowledge, the total cost of incivility can be estimated but not calculated because (a) the total cost consists of much more than out-of-pocket expenditures and (b) it is impossible to know the nature and extent of damage to self-image, morale, latent pathologies (e.g. hostility), and motivation of perpetrators and their victims. Then, of course, there are the collateral costs associated with others (e.g. family members and friends) who also become involved. Let's just say that the cost of uncivil behavior is substantial. That's the bad news. Now the good news. According to Pearson and Porath, much of it is avoidable. For example, it is possible to reduce (if not eliminate) incivility in the workplace. After leading off with an especially relevant quotation of Albert Einstein ("The world is a dangerous place, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."), Pearson and Porath devote most of Chapter 13 to explaining how to create a civil workplace. Here is an abbreviation of their suggestions, "grounded in hard evidence - interviews and survey results with thousands of targets of incivility, not to mention discussions, focus groups, and interviews of hundreds of executives and managers." 1. Set zero-tolerance expectations. They must be driven by senior management or they won't go anywhere. 2. Look in the mirror. How do you measure up in terms of your attitude and behavior? What example are you setting? 3. Weed out trouble before it enters your organization. Screen potential clients as rigorously as you do job candidates. Review Point #1. 4. Teach civility. Make certain everyone in the organization understands what civility is so that they can help to establish and sustain (and when necessary, defend) a culture of civility. 5. Train employees and managers. For example, explain how to recognize and cope with the inappropriate behavior of "cunning offenders." 6. Put your ear to the ground and listen carefully. One option is 360º feedback. Be alert to consensus of opinion and a pattern of uncivil behavior. 7. "When incivility occurs, hammer it." Incivility is like cancer. Once detected, it must immediately be treated aggressively. 8. "Take complaints seriously." A culture of civility must also be a culture of candor. An open door policy will encourage people to confide. 9. "Don't make excuses about powerful instigators." Offenders' supervisors must be role models for effective implementation of these and other suggestions, especially #1 and #7. To tolerate incivility is to condone it and then over time, to encourage it. 10. Invest in post-departure interviews. In terms of alleged incivility, there is more to be learned from former employees 45-60 days after departure than there is during an exit interview. With regard to #3, Pearson and Porath acknowledge the difficulty of picking up on incivility during interviews. However, they do offer six r
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