7 Steps to Play Nice at the Office

Dealing With Workplace Incivility

Heather Heimbaugh, M.A.
Meghan R. Lowery, Ph.D.

Do you struggle with employees who are repeatedly absent, show little effort, never seem to go the extra mile, or neither seem satisfied nor committed to their jobs?

If you answered yes to any of these, you may have a problem with workplace incivility – but your employees may not be the one struggling!

Before you start pointing fingers and placing blame on the employees, consider whether these individuals are the real the problem. More often than we realize, these counterproductive behaviors occur in reaction to the work environment or organization’s leadership. Perhaps even your own leadership could be partially at fault. Remember, when you point one finger, there are four others pointing back at you.

Specifically, we find they are reacting to non-Q4 behaviors as defined by Psychological Associates’ The Dimensional® Model of Behavior. Q4 behaviors are those that are involving, assertive, and collaborative. However, there are three other quadrants, as shown below, in which behaviors can fall as well, and those are the ones we find most troublesome in a work setting.

q4 model in hand

At this point you, or someone you know, may think, “Now, wait a minute! I am definitely not the problem. I may not be the picture of niceness all the time, but my employees do not need a friend, they need a boss. It is my job to make sure the work gets done, and if I have to occasionally raise my voice to make sure that happens, then so be it.”

There is a problem with this thinking. Even low intensity, seemingly benign behaviors like interrupting others, swearing, telling offensive jokes, conducting oneself unprofessionally, embarrassing others, subtly undermining others’ opinions, speaking condescendingly, using sarcasm, and rudeness – behaviors falling specifically in the Q1 quadrant of the Model – have the potential to produce negative consequences. These behaviors fit under the broader classification of workplace incivility, which includes any behavior that threatens the workplace norm for mutual respect, regardless of its intention.

Workplace incivility might seem relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things compared to abusive supervision, workplace aggression, or harassment. However, it can create a great deal of stress for the target when it persists for a relatively long duration, occurs with great enough frequency, or manifests in varied or unpredictable ways.

The stress often results in a variety of consequences, many the same as those resulting from higher intensity, more openly aggressive behaviors. Furthermore, these consequences are not isolated to just the target. That is, even witnessing or hearing about workplace incivility can lead to the same negative consequences, such as:

  • Damage to trust
  • Retaliatory behaviors
  • Tardiness and/or leaving work early
  • An unwillingness to help out others or “go the extra mile”
  • Decreased
    • satisfaction with one’s supervisor, coworkers, and job
    • organizational commitment
    • perceptions of justice
    • effort, productivity, and performance
  • Increased
    • job withdrawal
    • turnover intentions
    • prevalence of mental and physical health problems

Abolishing, or at the very least, lessening the prevalence of workplace incivility at your organization can help reverse many of these while  encouraging improvements to organizational functioning and performance. By demonstrating Q4 collaborative behaviors, you can make a difference in the lives of your employees. The following are some techniques to help you begin:

  1. Team up with other leaders to set an example of the type of behavior you expect to see from employees in your organization.
  2. Ensure your interactions with peers are consistent with the behavior expected from others. Even if you know with certainty that your peer will not be offended by a joke or other unprofessional behaviors, others who might overhear the interaction may not feel the same.
  3. Always treat direct reports with respect. When they make mistakes, never say something that will make them feel badly. Instead, offer your support, and collaborate in creating a plans so the mistakes do not happen again.
  4. Give all negative feedback in private. Even if your feedback is constructive, calling out a person’s weaknesses in public can cause embarrassment.
  5. When you see something that constitutes uncivil behavior, take corrective action. Although you may be wary of issues not directly involving you, the worst thing you can do is ignore the situation. Workplace incivility builds off itself, and, if left unchecked, can transform into more overt and intentional aggression. Furthermore, if the incivility is allowed to permeate, it may become a part of the organization’s culture.
  6. Build positive relationships with other employees. Take time to get to know them as individuals.
  7. Be a respectful leader. Support a work environment that instills confidence, not fear and uncertainty. It is OK to be assertive, so long as it is balanced with respect and collaboration.

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Q4 Disruptions

Psychological Associates is excited to announce that our own Cindy Lefton, RN, Ph.D., Vice President Organizational Consulting, had an article published in the May 2013 issue of prestigious American Nurse Today. In the article, “Why disruption can be a good thing,” Cindy discusses how positive disruption – or challenging the status quo – in the medical field can lead to better patient outcomes and why nurses should create this positive disruption. “Unfortunately, in health care, too many situations arise where workers fail to speak up and disrupt the status quo – with serious repercussions,” she said.

When someone does not challenge the status quo or rock the boat, they are exhibiting Q2 behaviors based on the Dimensional Model of Behavior®. This can be detrimental to any company or, in the case of healthcare, to patients. By learning how to behave in a more Q4 manner, you can help your organization go from good to great or help avoid potentially serious repercussions for a patient. Being overly friendly or accepting of a superior or direct report is also call for a “positive disruption.” This Q3 behavior can lead to mistakes and things being swept under the rug, which can lead to a false sense that everything is ok.

Learn more about Q behaviors

Cindy combines her extensive knowledge of organizational psychology with her experience as a registered nurse to develop effective interventions for academic medical centers and hospitals. She is a sought-after speaker and author of many articles on the topic of psychology in nursing and healthcare leadership, and she will have additional articles published in the coming months.

Get the full article

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3 Pitfalls of Do-It-Yourself Organizational Surveys

Written by: Meghan R. Lowery, Ph.D.

survey

Advanced technology makes designing, using, and administering online surveys easier than ever. A prominent employee survey vendor even remarked “an intern can create a survey!” In part, they are correct. Organizations often relegate survey design and rollout to internal employees, who, with best intentions, create a measure they feel will help achieve the organization’s objectives – such as measuring employee opinions or understanding customer satisfaction metrics –  but often fall short of the strategic goals.

The DIY method often leaves out integral keys to surveys – pertinent questions, accurate data, and meaningful interpretation. Though the process of actually creating a survey, from the most simplistic to incredibly complex, has been made easier through new technology, the unfortunate reality is that user error has become more commonplace.

Imagine if it was suddenly easier and cheaper to manufacture weight scales by doing it yourself. Everyone on the lookout for a good bargain would buy the discount DIY scale, assemble the pieces at home, and step on the scale. To their amazement, the scale may read they are 15 pounds lighter than they were expecting. This DIY scale also is supposed to measure height, which helps in calculating body mass index. Oddly though, sometimes the measurements are 1 to 2 inches shorter or taller than previous measurements. Now, the individual’s body mass index is not the same – inaccurate in fact – but it’s close, and the scale was inexpensive.

This hypothetical tale of woe illustrates a simple concept: because the scale is DIY, it has a higher chance of turning out to be unreliable. This problem is just one of many pitfalls that can occur with DIY surveys. Here are other drawbacks:

Asking the Wrong Questions

Reliability and validity are integral when it comes to constructing strong organizational surveys. The questions are vital for understanding what an organization actually wants to know. It is important to consider what information you want as a result – not simply what to ask. There is a phrase commonly used to describe a source of bad data: “junk in equals junk out.” If the questions are not reliable, valid, and consistent, the conclusions that are drawn from the resulting data may not be correct. For this very reason, it is important to have a professional trained in survey methodology to design, construct, administer, and even interpret survey data for your organization.

Lack of Candor

Another problem that can occur when surveys are administered by internal sources is the resulting lack of candor from the employees themselves. Receiving candid responses is vital to the success of any survey, and employees may feel they cannot answer candidly when their responses are going directly to another employee, however trustworthy that person may be. Employees may feel responses could be viewed by their boss or another decision maker, and that can be frightening! Protect their interests and gain their trust by having an outside firm complete the data collection and analysis.

Radio Silence with Feedback

Many times, individuals compiling the results deliver the information directly to decision makers, who quietly absorb the report or discuss it with peers in high-level meetings. Though there may be changes made based upon the results, the employees rarely find out how their feedback may have helped the organization itself.  Revealing the entire report will not help in providing meaningful feedback either though.

It is essential to plan through who will be listening to the end results, communicate at a level that is appropriate, and disseminate results and the planned actions in a timely manner. Sounds simple, but this step is often forgotten, which means the employees can become distrustful of how their responses might be used in future surveys. A consultant trained in delivering feedback throughout the different levels of an organization can assist in this important process.

Learn why trust is the key to high performance

Though it is easy to construct and administer a survey using internal resources, the cost of doing so may turn out to be quite high if you get inaccurate data, false results, or have to duplicate your efforts. Data you can trust is invaluable in making strong organizational decisions. Be sure you make the right decisions from the right data.

Focus less on a bargain budget survey and enjoy the cost savings that may come after you incorporate valuable feedback from valid, reliable surveys your employees feel comfortable completing.

Implementing a fully reliable survey process is more affordable than you think – and can save you a lot of time and even help with employee retention. We would love to give you more information to help you improve your organizational surveys – just click here

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PRESENTATION: Gaining Employee Commitment to Increase Business Results

Our own Dr. Tom Brooks presented on the topic of employee engagement at a recent event for CEOs.  He explored the 10 things that drive employee commitment and increase bottom line results in any organization.

Below is Dr. Brooks’ presentation so you, too, can learn the essential elements of a committed workforce and how to gain commitment from your own employees. Topics covered in this presentation include:

  • The case for engagement
  • Specific drivers of engagement
  • Connecting workplace changes and engagement
  • Motivators of a committed workforce
  • Who owns responsibility of driving engagement

You can view the presentation in its entirety on slideshare or by using the widget below.

Watch for additional events and presentations coming soon from Psychological Associates.

As the leaders in organizational and leadership strategy and development solutions, we help our clients evolve into the organizations they wish to become. We offer talent management programs for some of the top Global 1000 companies. From assessments of new recruits to executive coaching and development to team building and numerous other programs, our Ph.D.s are well-versed on the needs of our Fortune 1000 clients.

To learn more about our offerings visit www.q4solutions.com/offerings.

At Psychological Associates we offer an exceptional leadership program called Leadership Through People Skills® on a monthly basis here in Saint Louis.  Leadership Through People Skills® is an intensive, three-day event that uses real-world issues and situations to give executives the opportunity to learn and apply the interpersonal leadership skills that are proven contributors to leadership success.  It teaches men and women how to use the appropriate amount of assertiveness and compassion as a leader; and helps grow the skills that help leaders obtain goals quicker.  LTPS provides rich, personal insights about leadership effectiveness and style. It strengthens influencing and people skills. It builds successful leaders.

We have also developed a group on LinkedIn where leaders can go to network with successful leaders across the globe and receive tips and articles from us as well as other individual contributors.  Join us in our LTPS group on Linkedin!

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PRESENTATION: Global Talent: Selection, Management and Leadership

Psychological Associates’ Dr. Ann Beatty recently gave a presentation to the Washington University Olin Business School’s Executive MBA students about Global Talent: Selection, Management, and Leadership. The presentation is relevant for any company that is currently working on a global scale or that is considering broadening its reach.  This presentation discusses both the benefits and challenges of a global workforce.

In today’s fast-paced and global business environment, executives must navigate the opportunities and challenges of a multicultural workforce where distance is not the only differentiator. Dr. Beatty utilizes a client case study to explore these differences and demonstrate how companies can profit from the use of specific strategies to build a successful team.

You can view the presentation in its entirety on slideshare or by using the widget below.

Psychological Associates offers talent management programs for some of the top Global 1000 companies. From assessments of new recruits to executive coaching to team building and numerous other programs, our Ph.D.s are well-versed on the needs of our global clients. We prepare organizations to achieve the future they envision. To learn more about our offerings visit www.q4solutions.com/offerings.

At Psychological Associates we offer an exceptional leadership program called Leadership Through People Skills® on a monthly basis here in Saint Louis.  Leadership Through People Skills® is an intensive, three-day event that uses real-world issues and situations to give executives the opportunity to learn and apply the interpersonal leadership skills that are proven contributors to leadership success.  It teaches men and women how to use the appropriate amount of assertiveness and compassion as a leader; and helps grow the skills that help leaders obtain goals quicker.  LTPS provides rich, personal insights about leadership effectiveness and style. It strengthens influencing and people skills. It builds successful leaders.

We have also developed a group on LinkedIn where leaders can go to network with successful leaders across the globe and receive tips and articles from us as well as other individual contributors.  Join us in our LTPS group on Linkedin!

Learn more about Leadership Through People Skills®

Learn about recognition Leadership Through People Skills® has received

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PRESENTATION: Labyrinth of Leadership: Challenges For Women in the Workplace

Our own Dr. Ann Beatty was recently asked to speak about the challenges facing women in the workplace today for a leadership series hosted by Emerson here in Saint Louis.

She developed a great presentation demonstrating not only the challenges women face but specific ways women and society can work to overcome these issues to create even greater equality.

Though the event was for Emerson employees only, we’d like to share Dr. Beatty’s presentation.  You can check it out on slideshare or using the widget below.

In the presentation Dr. Beatty references an article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” in The Atlantic from Anne-Marie Slaughter, PhD.  You can check it out here. 

At Psychological Associates we offer an exceptional leadership program called Leadership Through People Skills® on a monthly basis here in Saint Louis.  Leadership Through People Skills® is an intensive, three-day event that uses real-world issues and situations to give executives the opportunity to learn and apply the interpersonal leadership skills that are proven contributors to leadership success.  It teaches men and women how to use the appropriate amount of assertiveness and compassion as a leader; and helps grow the skills that help leaders obtain goals quicker.  LTPS provides rich, personal insights about leadership effectiveness and style. It strengthens influencing and people skills. It builds successful leaders.

We have also developed a group on LinkedIn where leaders can go to network with successful leaders across the globe and receive tips and articles from us as well as other individual contributors.  Join us in our LTPS group on Linkedin!

Learn more about Leadership Through People Skills®

Learn about recognition Leadership Through People Skills® has received

Sign up for our leadership newsletter

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The Championship Round of the “Best US Business Leaders”

The competition has been tight – but the fight is almost over!

With 42.9% of the vote Steve Jobs is leading the game, and Oprah will be his final match-up with 28.57% of the vote.

Who do you think is the “Best US Business Leader” – Steve Jobs or Oprah Winfrey?  Cast your vote below and the champion will be announced tomorrow!

Want to learn more about how Steve and Oprah made it to the championship round?  Check out our Sweet 16 bracket of the Best US Business Leaders.

Would you like to learn more about how to become a great leader?  We can help you!  We offer a world reknown leadership course called Leadership Through People Skills® (LTPS).  LTPS is an intensive, three-day workshop that uses real-world issues and situations to give executives the opportunity to learn and apply the interpersonal leadership skills that are proven contributors to leadership success.  Tens of thousands of executives have benefited from the LTPS experience, and the most common testimonial we receive is “LTPS not only changed how I perform at work, it changed my life.”  Visit Psychological Associates’ website to learn more!

The comments on and results of this bracket are done for fun and do not represent the opinions of Psychological Associates.  This does not represent a scientific ranking of leaders. 

The Final 4 of Best US Business Leaders

This year we thought it might be fun to put together a Sweet 16 of the “Best US Business Leaders.”

Through an informal poll we identified 16 incredibly diverse and successful leaders spanning multiple industries and even decades.  We then took another informal poll to narrow that down to our Final 4 of “Best US Business Leaders.”  Take a look at our resulting bracket below.

Now we’d like you to help us pick the winner!  Simply take the poll below, comment on this blog, tweet to us @q4solutions, or email rjackson@q4solutions.com with the leader you think should win out of the 4 contenders!

We’ll announce the championship round on Monday and declare the triumphant victor Tuesday morning, April 3rd!

Leadership Bracket

Business Leader Bracket

Best US Business Leaders

Would you like to learn more about how to become a great leader?  We can help you!  We offer a world reknown leadership course called Leadership Through People Skills® (LTPS).  LTPS is an intensive, three-day workshop that uses real-world issues and situations to give executives the opportunity to learn and apply the interpersonal leadership skills that are proven contributors to leadership success.  Tens of thousands of executives have benefited from the LTPS experience, and the most common testimonial we receive is “LTPS not only changed how I perform at work, it changed my life.”  You can enter to win free tuition to our April session of LTPS by following us on LinkedIn – learn more in our recent blog post – “Follow Us for Free Tuition to LTPS”

The comments on and results of this bracket are done for fun and do not represent the opinions of Psychological Associates.  This does not represent a scientific ranking of leaders. 

Let the World Know You’re Q4!

If you’ve taken our “Leadership Through People Skills” course, or any course offered by Psychological Associates for that matter, you can now let the world know about your certification.

LinkedIn has new functionality that allows you to post certifications to your profile – which will appear next to your skills and education sections.  So when you’re done it will look like this:

Put your certification on LinkedIn

Tout Your Certification!

It’s easy to add this to your profile, we’ve provided a few steps below:

1) Login to LinkedIn

2) Go to “Edit Profile” in the top navigation.

3) Scroll down and directly below the gray box with your picture and website information you will see a note about adding section with an orange “NEW” button.  Click the green plus sign next to add sections.

4) This will bring up a list on the left.  Select “Certifications.”

5) This will bring up a few fields for you to fill out.  For Certification Name enter “Leadership Through People Skills”  For Certification Authority enter “Psychological Associates”  For License # enter Q4LTPSmmyy (mmyy stands for the month and year you took the course)  If you have any questions, just post to this blog or reach out to me directly.