How to be “Champions of Civility” - some practical notes

Sarah Putlock - Monday, June 12, 2017

While the points below might sound like tips or just ways to mitigate or eradicate the toxic environment at a workplace, they are rather real-time examples that I have practiced witnessed. 

The impact is profound!

• Professionalism with colleagues: being respectful and appreciative of other people's work and input to the overall strategy of the Bank (everyone has something to bring to the table and no one is less important than the other). Having this in mind ensures colleagues are spoken to respectfully and no one is belittled in the workplace

• At a workplace, try to treat people the way they would like to be treated not the way you would like to be treated

• Transferred aggression: develop the skill of isolating and dealing with issues/challenges without transferring the frustrations on non concerned parties

• "Name and Celebrate" successes/milestones/achievements: simple gestures such as birthday greetings, lets also make as much noise to celebrate/acknowledge when people/teams do well as opposed to only making noise when people mess up. Name and Celebrate for example could be for country retail team that reaches and significantly surpasses its income aspiration for the year, a colleague discovers and successfully stops a fraud attempt on a client's account etc

• Appreciating the staff effort goes a long way. A simple job for one might be quite complicated for other simply because of limited product knowledge, different background, learning curve etc

• Have equal treatment to all team members. The bias does comes because of different working relationships but people have different strengths and weaknesses and it takes time before the qualities can be truly harnessed and potential fully achieved. Equal treatment helps to keep the staff motivated

• Try to greet your colleagues with their own language. Nothing is more impactful than adding that personal touch to your approach. "Habari” which means how are you in Swahili, or thanking a Russian colleague by saying “Spasibo” or saying"Khoda Hafes” which means goodbye in Urdu. All of this is quite simple, impactful and can be easily googled and delivered

• Avoid negative people. Try to surround yourself with people with positive vibes, if you don’t find them. Then be that positive person. We spend time together as colleagues more than we do with our own families. It is really important to come to work with positive attitude. We have enough in our lives. Last thing I want is to entertain negative people. That shouldn't stop us from being there or being the shoulder to cry on, when help is needed or when you need to boost one's confidence

• When you see something wrong, or see a colleague doing something wrong and you know the right way of doing it, try to alert him/her or advise her/him. Always remember "what goes around comes around" and no one is flawless!

• Never leave "unfinished talk" or "misunderstood gesture" hanging there. If you have an issue with someone or maybe a colleague, just say it at once. Don't let things pile up. Take it out of your chest and tell him/her. Most of the time, it is nothing or not worth mentioning, it is just our imagination or us over-analyzing things.

This has enabled me to navigate my ways through tough times and have allies at a workplace. Let it alone, working at a less toxic workplace.

Wasim Ben Khadra

Director- External Communications and Public Affairs
Standard Chartered Bank
2012 PSOW Graduate of Train to be a Corporate Etiquette and International Protocol Consultant and 2011 Graduate of International Protocol Manager Training

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