Compliments of Village Square via Flickr

During the 1990s it was not uncommon to see job titles of “Vice President of Diversity,” and “Chief Diversity Officer.” New organizational positions are the harbinger of what’s deemed important. In today’s climate of focus on the uncivil, I’m seeing the term “civility czar” mentioned in mainstream media.

Given that human relations are the bedrock upon which business is transacted, a person who acts as a behavioral ombudsperson might not be a bad idea. This individual could be responsible for crafting civility policy, calling people on bad behavior, and for providing education on what’s acceptable. Ignorance often precedes an uncivil act. Modeling of appropriate conduct and imposing sanctions for violating others’ boundaries should be job #1 in companies that wish to be the employer of choice.

A focus on community necessitates the enactment of socialized, as opposed to personalized power – e.g., developing, recognizing, and celebrating the talents of others. Those not willing to get with the program (and contribute something positive) need to step aside and make room for workers who sow relational capital – positive seeds of kindness, helpfulness, and nobility that generate reciprocal exchange. In a recent article my coauthors and I described shaming as a possible antidote to white collar crime. For crimes of the soul, I think that penance is necessary. At the very least, a written apology should be required of the offending party. In many cases the injured simply want their dignity restored.

If business continues status quo (without restitution) then a Darwinian culture will be the result. A CNN commentator once stated “At some point you have to punch the bully in the mouth.” Has your organization made the step of sending a message to those who brutalize their peers? Has it enforced a standard of conduct, has it crafted a code of respect? If your company has done nothing in this area, ask why it’s comfortable in letting the most obnoxious rule the roost. Apathy in terms of the interpersonal results in groupthink where all but the most truculent have a say.

The lack of diversity in idea generation takes a direct hit on productivity. From a competitive advantage standpoint, a back to basics approach on what we should have learned in kindergarten would seem the best course of action.

Managing in the future will look radically different from the command and control vestiges of power mongers that we see in companies today. Establishing a culture of respect – with a champion at the helm – is a way to change with the times through empowering people. Firms in which individuals can readily communicate, freely consort on work across levels, and take the initiative without asking permission will be the ones that survive.

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

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