Creating a Professional Work Environment

A key to developing organizations that are productive is to foster an environment where people feel respected, at ease, and enjoy working. Often referred to a “civility” or “etiquette”, professional work environments set standards for an overall concern about treating others in a sensible, understanding manner and behavior that is positive and reasonable. These standards can be enforced and incorporated into staff training, such as harassment and diversity training. The following are points to consider for creating a respectful workplace environment.

1. It begins at the top. Treating people with kindness and respect is behavior that the management team must model. Courtesy is contagious.

2. Stress that the organization has a zero-tolerance policy for unprofessional and abrasive behavior. Communicate the message and incorporate it into training.

3. Behavior is all encompassing. It includes words, actions, e-mails and other electronic messages, body language, gestures, etc.

4. Everyone (management and staff) should recognize their own hot buttons and what triggers an emotional response. It’s okay to say you’re sorry if emotions run high and behavior slips from a level of respect.

5. Recognize and manage conflict in your organization. Dispel the myth that conflict is negative. It can be positive and drive innovation and creativity. Have tools and processes in place to recognize different styles and manage conflict in a constructive way that values differences and openly discusses issues. The Big Book of HR devotes a chapter to Moving from Conflict to Collaboration.

6. Encourage everyone not to tolerate and to positively confront behavior that does not meet professional standards. Everyone should feel free to describe behaviors that offend them and explain how it makes them feel so others can understand the impact.

7. Make everyone accountable for their actions.

8. Provide a vehicle where employees can get help with issues such as anger or stress management, such as an employee assistance program.


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