Hire for civility

A Harvard Business Review article on the price of workplace incivility is worth a read if your work colleagues are less than courteous.

Written by Christine Porath, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and Christine Pearson, a professor of global leadership at Thunderbird School of Global Management, the article spells out the cost as well as providing tips on how to deal with incivility.

One suggestion is to hire for civility. The writers mention companies that conduct group interviews so that employees can evaluate potential teammates. Staff may pick up on behaviour that would be suppressed in more formal interviews.

The writers say that only 11% of organisations report considering civility at all during the hiring process. Yet, ‘incivility usually leaves a trail of some short which can be uncovered if someone’s willing to look’. This means following up on hunches with referees and other contacts. While an applicant may look good on paper and give text book interview responses, they may in fact be a person who leaves a trail of destruction in their wake with colleagues and clients.

Interview questions around team work, client service and staff management need to drill down into specific interpersonal behaviours to explore patterns of responses and test stress points when dealing with people.

In addition to hiring for civility, the writers suggest managers model civil behaviour, teach it, reward it, penalise incivility, seek feedback and conduct post departure interviews (six months after a person has left) in order to foster a civil workplace culture.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.