Civility at UC – not to make assumptions

Last week we welcomed to campus visiting academic Professor Michael P Leiter, PhD (U of Oregon) MA (Vanderbilt) BA (Duke), an expert on the psychology of work and Professor of Organisational Psychology at Deakin University.

It was wonderful to see such a great turnout at Michael’s research seminar and the all-staff combined “Weaving the Rope” and “Blue CLUES” sessions. Around 300 people heard him speak at these events.

Michael talked about the importance of workplaces as a community and how belonging is vital. Michael uses the 4A’s a as a model to define civility.

  1. Acknowledge – which can be as simple as saying good morning to each other.
  2. Accept – inviting people to join in.
  3. Appreciate – giving thanks.
  4. Accommodate – inconveniencing yourself a bit to help someone else fit in with the flow of what’s going on.

Michael showed us the importance of intention and intensity of social interaction. Often we don’t know what message was intended, therefore we make assumptions (rightly or wrongly) about the intentions of others.

Michael talked about how his research shows that people tend to see themselves as being more civil than others perceive and that on average people experience a ratio of 5:1 civil to uncivil interactions when at work – which shows there’s a lot of room for improvement. For those who have their own LSI1&2, take a look and see what your results tell you in relation to this.

So what can staff do??

Michael suggested staff recruit a friend or workgroup to start modelling civility with.

What can leaders do??

Michael talked about leaders playing a large role in setting an example and promoting civility and respect and suggested putting civility on the agenda and adopting a sound Problem Solving framework as a good starting point. Check out the Problem Solving methodology UC has adopted.

Link to Organisational Culture

I see strong alignment between what Michael shared with us and the work we are doing to move UC towards our desired culture. For example, our culture survey measures now we feel about:

Respect for Members “The extent to which people are treated in a fair and just manner both in general and with respect to developmental opportunities”.

Empowerment “The extent to which people are given the authority, resources, experience and opportunity to perform their tasks autonomously”.

Use of Rewards, Use of Punishments, Significance, Interdependence – the list goes on….

If we can move these levers for change in a positive way, we can begin operating in a more constructive way which leads to greater Role Clarity, Motivation, Satisfaction and less Stress, which in turn lifts the performance of the individuals and the organisation as a whole.

Team Management Profile (TMP) is another tool we use to enhance team dynamics.

You’ll find Michael’s video and presentation under the Blue CLUES Intranet page and the Weaving the Rope Intranet page

If you would like assistance on how to kick-start a conversation about civility and respect within your team then get in touch with your Manager or HR Advisor. The 4 A’s is a great place to start!

Ngā mihi

Rachel Dillon

OD Advisor

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