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Compliments of Evan Leeson via Flickr

Compliments of Evan Leeson via Flickr

Following a week of high profile scandals, the NFL announced that it will overhaul the League’s Personal Conduct Policy – to include stiffer penalties for domestic violence. It goes without saying that policy is more effective when it’s implemented proactively, rather than in knee jerk fashion – underneath the glare of media scrutiny and social media.

Given that bullying and its associated consequences can wreak havoc, one would think that most companies would have stepped up to the plate; but this common sense notion is unfortunately far from the truth. A Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey revealed that only three percent of firms have a dedicated bullying policy in place. Bad behavior (unchecked) will multiply in a vacuum.

Explicit guidelines send a clear message, reinforced when good behavior is modeled from top leaders. This includes treating people with dignity, including employees as part of a collaborative decision making process, and treating them like treasured partners (as opposed to mass units of production).

This semester my students in the Principles of Management EXL course have devised a “living laboratory” in which they’ve implemented these very tenets (see below):

  •  Confusion and Clarity Component: Each class ends with a “C&C” session. Students indicate which concepts they considered confusing, and how they would like for the professor to provide clarity.
  • Student Introduction: Homework assignments for the first day include the remission of a one page document, asking “What do I need to know about you to help you be successful?” “What are your course goals?” and “What behaviors do you dislike in your current manager, and how can I treat you in this class to rectify those deficiencies?
  • Suggestion Box. The D2L Course Shell contains a “Suggestion Box” (with an anonymous posting option) in which students indicate suggested course improvements. Specifically, they will respond to the following questions: (1) What do you consider to be the problem? (2) How does it hinder learning? (3) What is your solution? (4) How would you as the manager address this?
  • Collaborative problem solving: in which students present (in class) a workplace problem (theirs, or hypothetical), and the community of learners helps to resolve the dilemma.
  • Co-determination Council: Communications Directors from each team will form a “Co-determination Council” that will meet with the professor weekly to discuss team preferences – regarding class content, structure, and activities. Meeting outcomes will be recorded in a Quality Improvement Plan, designed to be a “living” document amended throughout the course term.
  • Civility Policy: Co-determination members will formulate a “Civility Policy,” (approximately one double spaced page in length) which outlines expected class conduct and respective sanctions for non-compliance. An informative civility policy should include the following components:

*Definition of respectful interaction (and what constitutes the opposite)

*Consequences for non-compliance

*Action plan for creating this atmosphere within your classroom (see http://policy.unm.edu/university-policies/2000/2240.html for an example).


I’ll be interested to see how this model unfolds over time. But whatever the outcome, I have a feeling students will be more committed to the resulting “community” they have created.

Related posts:

Gender, Conflict, and Workplace Bullying: Is Civility Policy the Silver Bullet?
MTSU class presents at Nissan headquarters
Professor helps shape TN workplace anti-bullying law
10 ways to lose your best employees
The Case for a Civility Czar

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

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