Strange thing: organizations (and the leaders that run them) have no clue of how much workplace incivility really costs them. Leaders fall into thinking errors that prevent them from seeing (let alone actually calculating!) such costs.
For example, instead of thinking: “until their morning caffeine kicks in, my staff are grumpy. It’s just a part of life around here.”, ask yourself: “what are the costs of customers turning to our competitor, where cheerful service is not dependent on caffeine intake?”.
And instead of saying: “Two team members haven’t been on speaking terms for years. I’ve tried various solutions but there’s just too much history for things to change”, you may want to ask: “In what ways have the work processes suffered due to these staff not speaking to each other? What (annual) dollar amount can be placed on the inefficiencies, workarounds and wasted time that result from this conflict?”.
If you’re in a leadership position, sit down for a serious one-on-one with yourself to calculate the real cost of incivility on your team. Here are sample questions you could use:
- Can I place a dollar value on the cost that this behaviour triggers? If so, what is it costing us?
- Does this incivil conduct affect our team performance or productivity? If so, in what ways? Cost? One fun and eye-opening way of doing this is: ask yourself how many incivility incidents does one person on your team experience per week? how much does such an incident cost in terms of time spent on things such as venting about it to another colleague, time spent worrying about it, and time lost on reduced productivity or ‘going on strike’? then multiply the number of minutes per week by 52 weeks per year, factor in the hourly salary rate and the number of employees on the team. This together will give a you a sense of how much (at a minimum) incivility is costing you per year.
- In what ways has incivility affected (or will likely affect) our ability to attract and retain talent? Cost?
- How are our clients and customers affected?
- Have we lost costumers or eroded trust? Cost?
- How (specifically) does the uncivil behaviour affect innovation?
- In what ways does current incivility violate our organization’s mission or values? What price are we paying for this?
- How does incivility affect our team’s reputation within our the organization and with internal clients?
- How are relationships with our suppliers / partners / alliances / volunteers/ neighbours an other stakeholders affected?
- How (specifically) does this behaviour affect our brand reputation?