Compliments of csiknor via Flickr

In the bullying literature, “icing out” refers to giving someone the cold shoulder – in other words, ignoring and invalidating their existence.

This phenomenon is an extreme of what Graen terms “ingroup” “outgroup,” or LMX theory, in which managers segment the workforce into hired hands and most preferred employees. Ostracism (when practiced by your peers) is an insidious tool. Feeling alone is the antithesis of community, in which ideas are synergistically created by people working in concert.

The workplace equivalent of solitary confinement, coldness on the job merely serves to isolate people, and to prevent them from contributing their maximum performance. As a manager you can’t afford to lose human capital in any circumstance, and certainly not to satisfy your own selfish agenda of vengeance/jealously/lethargy.

To create an inclusive work environment:

  • Make “management by wandering around” part of your regular agenda. Sam Walton rode with the Wal-Mart truck drivers in an effort to know, understand, and to build rapport with his employees. Similarly, Herb Kelleher, former Southwest Airlines CEO, partied with his employees, talked to them regularly, and let everyone know that they were an important part of his team.
  • Don’t choose “favorites.” The similar exaltation of each and every employee is not only ethical, but will reap far more benefits than simply singling out a special few.
  • Engage in simple pleasantries: e.g., “Hello, how are you doing?” Acknowledge others’ presence and inquire as to whether they have problems. The mere fact that you’ve paid attention may be of benefit.
  • Watch your non-verbals. This aspect of behavioral management is especially important for low self-monitors, who “wear their heart on their sleeve.” Frowns and planned unfriendliness only leave people feeling deflated

In summary, treat everyone as if they were wearing a crown on their head. In the grand scheme of things, they are.

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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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