Everyone is responsible for maintaining a respectful workplace.
Maintaining a respectful workplace should be simple right? Everyone should be treated respectfully in the workplace. However, the reality is that often this isn’t the case, and issues, problems and conflicts are inevitable. So how do we go about creating and maintaining a respectful workplace?
Guidance For Employees on Creating and Maintaining Respectful Workplaces.
Do you have an issue with a co-worker, who is responsible for ‘fixing’ your problem? Your immediate reaction may be to take your grievance to your manager or file a complaint with HR, because after all, it’s the responsibility of your employer to ‘right the wrong’, isn’t it? Isn’t that how we maintain a respectful workplace?
This ‘pass it over to management’ attitude has probably been ingrained in all of us from an early age. Remember as kids when we got into strife and we wanted mum or dad to come to our rescue and deal with the fallout? And at school we looked to the teachers and Principal to impose discipline.
Even as adults when there is a problem in the community we expect the police or security officer to step in and sort things out. And, if that fails, we expect a court to make a decision for us.
Confrontation can be just that — confronting — and it’s not uncommon to feel reluctant, uncomfortable or even vulnerable about addressing things directly.
You fear the consequences from the other person; you may feel trapped because the issue relates to someone in a position of power; or you’re simply unsure how to put your complaint into words.
Surely it’s not unreasonable to ‘handball’ our workplace problem to our supervisor, manager or Human Resources and get someone else to take responsibility for putting things right? Wrong!
It’s your responsibility to ‘have a go’
Maintaining a respectful workplace is about how you deal interact and deal with issues. The ball is squarely in your court to attempt to resolve the issue, at least in the first instance. Yes, this confrontation might be uncomfortable or difficult for you — these are perfectly normal feelings — but you can’t expect someone else to do this for you.
This first approach is what your company expects of you and is the first step in any company’s grievance policy. In fact, if you approach your supervisor with your problem it is his/her responsibility to send you back to have that conversation. Unfortunately, often a supervisor will incorrectly encourage you to put your complaint in writing and send it to HR.
You’ll possibly find that the conversation isn’t as difficult as you may expect. The goal of maintaining a respectful workplace is to to resolve the issue quickly and amicably with minimum misunderstanding, preserving the working relationship and keeping it between the parties involved.
Don’t wait until there is a recurrence or assume the problem will go away. Approach the employee who made you feel uncomfortable, explain how it affected you and ask them politely to stop. Do this calmly, respectfully, and in confidence. It’s possible that the offending employee may not be aware that their behaviour is offensive, and most will change their behaviour as soon as they are aware of the problem. Maintaining a respectful workplace is not about hiding from issues or confrontations but dealing with them before they build into larger issues or confrontations.
It is only if this fails should you take your grievance to management. Don’t let negative incidents go unchecked because they can produce severe and unwanted longer-term repercussions.
Attempt to deal with it
We all have a right to have our grievances addressed, however, in all but the most serious breaches of conduct, we also have the responsibility to attempt to deal with it ourselves before we escalate it to management.
Building and maintaining a respectful workplace isn’t easy and definitely requires work and guidance. If your organization needs help in building and maintaining a respectful workplace contact ProActive-Resolutions to learn about how we can help you build and maintain a respectful workplace.