No matter how communications have been in the past, it’s not too late to make a pledge right now to treat your colleagues – whether you are their peer or their manager – with openness, respect and kindness.
Role model respectful behaviour
Everyone in an organisation can actively make an effort to foster respectful relationships with their team members. Managers have the responsibility to lead by example and act in a way that shows genuine care and concern. This can be done by encouraging respectful, civil interactions and by engaging in the following behaviours:
- Actively reflecting on the things people do that make a good day at work
- Set clear expectations about respectful behaviour with practical examples of positive vs negative behaviour
- Making it clear that attaining results at the expense of respectful workplace behaviour is not acceptable
- Being friendly and civil towards others
- Encouraging a culture that is accepting of different ethnic groups, genders, and individuals with disabilities
- Create informal places where people can interact at work, away from their desks or workstations, to encourage polite, friendly conversations
Thriving teams allow and respect differences
Another way to get started is to listen to Mary Ann Baynton speaking about building thriving teams. Baynton talks about how leaders can build strong, cohesive and successful teams that work together. This includes through challenging times as well as ‘business as usual’. The video is a good reminder that a leader does not have to be mental health expert to talk to staff and create positive workplace cultures. They just have to be someone who respects and allows differences to be present in a team.
Providing negative feedback can be a challenge for many people as it can feel conflicting to the positive, civil behaviours mentioned above. To ensure that we continue to treat each other well, we can all provide feedback on how we feel things are going. Whether it’s your direct manager or supervisor, a peer or colleague, or your own workers, day-to-day feedback that is structured is a great way to keep a positive culture present in the organisation. After all, it’s not possible for someone to improve on behaviours they’re not aware of. For advice on giving feedback to the different people you interact with, the ACT Government have provided a guide titled The Art of Giving Feedback: Giving Seeking and Receiving Feedback as starting point.
Everyone has the right to feel welcomed and respected at work. Making a commitment to treat everyone respectfully and kindly, and sharing this commitment, is a great place to start.