Want to know the big, bad, ugly truth?
When it comes to respectful workplace policies, some organisations don’t practise what they preach, according to recent ProActive ReSolutions questionnaire findings.
Sixty nine percent of the questionnaire’s respondents said they were aware of their organisations’ respectful workplace policies.
Yet, 58 per cent said their organisations hadn’t prepared them to respond appropriately when they were being treated with disrespect.
Furthermore, 32 per cent said they were aware of two to five past incidents of disrespectful behaviour in their workplaces.
The gap between policy and performance may have many employees and managers feeling distressed and frustrated, or scratching their heads as to why their carefully consulted and crafted policies are failing.
Bridging the gap
Staff ‘familarising’ themselves with policies on your organisation’s intranet or attending theoretical training sessions on respectful workplaces isn’t enough to ensure employees and managers learn how to walk the talk when it comes to living out a respectful workplace policy.
The gap between policy and performance will only close when managers and employees commit to changing the conversations they have with each other and then follow through with this change.
Employees and managers will only see and feel respectful workplace policies working when they are treated fairly and see others being treated fairly.
Management, in particular, plays a vital role in modeling respectful behaviour. If respectful workplace policies are to be taken seriously by all and implemented by all, every manager in every interaction with every staff member must reflect respectful behaviour consistently and fairly.
Beware of unhelpful unwritten rules
Despite the best intentions, unhelpful unwritten rules can block or derail the implementation of respectful workplace polices.
Every effort must be made to eliminate or minimise unhelpful unwritten rules because when working under such rules:
- Rules of conduct often develop without being discussed.
- People typically don’t ask how others are affected by their behaviour.
- Silence and inaction in the face of disrespectful behaviour acts as a form of approval.
- People who have lots of informal power or support in the workplace will set the rules of conduct through their actions.
Beyond the paper tiger
To translate respectful policy into performance, follow these top six tips:
- Redistribute your workplace behaviour and conduct policies often. Discuss your policies frequently using a variety of methods - intranet, team meetings and in performance reviews.
- Make workplace behaviour and conduct competencies part of your hiring and performance reviews for all employees.
- Make your relationship management competencies part of your hiring and performance reviews for all managers.
- Train your people in how to solve their day-to-day disagreements informally. That should take care of 98 per cent of issues that come up - issues that should never get to the formal grievance stage.
- Train your people in the formal processes for addressing issues that cannot be solved informally.
- Include in your policies a requirement to behave respectfully and collaboratively and in ways consistent with your organisation’s values.
ProActive ReSolution Questionaire
The ProActive ReSolutions questionnaire results are based on responses from some 8,000 (of the 11,138) people at work in Australia and Canada, who participated in ProActive ReSolutions respectful workplace training from June 2007 to June 2009. Most of the participants came from the government sector.
Before each training session, participants were asked a series of questions about their organisations’ respectful workplace polices. Not all questions were answered by all participants.