In our past several posts, Greg and I have stressed the importance of policies and procedures regarding violence in the workplace. As I think about my own work experiences, I realize that an organization can have policies and procedures for anything and everything, but they are for naught if leadership doesn’t model, support, or even believe in the policies themselves. Employees get their behavioral cues from their leadership team. For that reason, leadership plays a vital role in creating and maintaining a work environment that values Respect, Service, and Safety at Work®.
Based on personal experience and information I’ve obtained from customers, here are a few key things leadership can do to promote respect in the workplace:
- Open Doors. Leadership that sincerely cares about the needs, concerns, and safety of their teams will not only create happy teams and less attrition, they will also provide for your customers better. At most organizations, employees can approach their managers through an open-door policy. Some employees have access to roundtable sessions led by human resources without leadership present. Some organizations even have anonymous toll-free numbers that employees can call if they aren’t comfortable with the other two options.
- Effective Communication. This is such an important part of ensuring that people feel respected during interactions. Not only is it vital to communicate the message clearly, the manner in which the message is delivered is equally important. I’ve worked with and have heard of organizations that include communication as a component of their performance evaluations—because effective communication is so important to daily interactions both internally and externally.
- The Golden Rule. My favorite leaders and role-models not only treat me as they would want me to treat them, they infuse the golden rule into all their interactions.
Next, let’s take a look at what leadership can do to ensure that service is a priority:
- Quick Response Time. Responding promptly to customers is of course a number-one priority, as is responding promptly to employees. Addressing conflict right away instead of allowing it to fester is a priority. Effective leadership addresses negative behavior quickly by identifying the inappropriate behavior and agreeing on a solution.
- Delivering Bad News. Whether it’s giving a customer a “No” answer or terminating an employee, leaders who perform these functions should be prepared and tactfully elicit the best responses.
Finally, leadership can foster safety in their workplace with:
- Training. Good leaders recognize the need and value of employee training. They support training that not only meets legislative mandates, but that takes a proactive approach to incident reduction.
- Myth Busting. When good leadership recognizes that while a violent incident “hasn’t happened here,” they don’t get trapped in the mentality that “it never will.” They understand that incorporating a holistic approach that includes awareness and prevention at very early stages minimizes the risk of an escalated incident occurring in their workplace.
What are your leaders doing to promote respectful, service-oriented, and safe interactions with customers and coworkers? Please share your experiences in the Comments section below.