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Strengthening a culture of respect and engagement in the workplace video transcript

For: Employers and managers Information seekers

Video transcript of presentation given by Professor Michael P Leiter, Deakin University and Jo Wintle, Peoplescape at Comcare's Mental Health Community of Practice in May 2019.

View the video of Professor Michael P Leiter's and Jo Wintle's presentation.


Jill:

I've got the pleasure of introducing Jo Wintle, but Jo's actually got an offsider as well who's going to join us but by video, in fact. So, let me give you a bit of background. Jo Wintle herself is a principal consultant at PeopleScape, as Sue just touched on, and a psychologist with a master's of organisational psychology from Monash University. Joe has experience in executive and senior leadership coaching and development, designing and delivering organisational-wide leadership programs and building high performance teams across a range of industries and sectors.

Jill:

Now PeopleScape, the firm that Joe is with, has a partnership with Professor Leiter of Deakin University. It is Professor Leiter who is actually going to talk to us first via video, because he can't be with us here in person. Following his video, Jo will then talk to us. So, actually getting two for one, which I reckon is pretty good.

Jill:

Let me tell you about Professor Leiter, and when we've done that, I'll tell you a little about the presentation and we'll go to video from the Professor. So, Professor Leiter is considered one of the world's leading experts on job stress, burnout, and engagement. Based on the successful Canadian CREW program, Professor Leiter developed a program called SCORE, which stands for Strengthening a Culture Of Respect and Engagement. This program aims to help work groups overcome the forces that weaken the culture of civility and respect.

Jill:

Professor Leiter's research in the area of workplace incivility represent some of the latest thinking in organisational psychology. Professor Leiter, as I said, couldn't be here today, but he has kindly filmed a video to introduce that SCORE program to us. Jo will then be helping, as Sue said, to decode his research theory for us, which sits behind workplace civility.

Jill:

So, by way of introduction to Professor Leiter and to Jo, as all of us appreciate, people go to work looking often to be part of a community and have a sense of belonging. How well this is actually accommodated, impacts whether they're engaged and the extent to which they feel supported and valued or not. Work groups can actually learn the proper psychological safety techniques to become more civil and supportive of one another.

Jill:

Jo's presentation will show us how we can teach work groups to up their game in relation to being civil and respectful of each other. So, with that I'll invite both Professor Leiter to give us a video address, and then Jo to speak after that.

Michael Leiter:

Hello, I'm Michael Leiter. I'm Professor of Organisational Psychology at Deakin University, and a special adviser to PeopleScape. I'm here today to talk about workplace civility, the interactions through which people show respect and regard to [inaudible 00:03:03] at work, by appreciating each other by acknowledging each other, including one another in their conversations and activities.

Michael Leiter:

Incivility in contrast to civility is people showing disrespect to one another in low intensity ways. The kinds of things, where people fail to respond when you ask them a question or they're rolling their eyes when you offer your ideas during a meeting. It's the little stuff and the little stuff really matters. We are, as people, very sensitive to the subtle social cues that others are sending to us. That conveys a powerful message about whether we're accepted, whether we're considered valued, or an important part of the community.

Michael Leiter:

Civility, when people convey to us their respect and regard, it contributes to mental health on the positive side. It brings happiness, it brings contentment, it brings a sense of psychological safety when people interact with each other in a positive and constructive way. In contrast, incivility, when people are conveying disrespect and disregard for one another, even in the most subtle ways, that brings about anxiety. It prompts depression. It just basically makes people unhappy and is one of the real drivers of mental illness at work.

Michael Leiter:

I've been looking at the quality of people's relationships at work through my research for quite a while, because it's been established pretty solidly that incivility pushes people towards burnout. Civility pushes people towards being engaged in their work. Over time, this issue has become more and more important, particularly looking at the low intensity kinds of behaviours with incivility.

Michael Leiter:

I don't think people are acting more badly at work now, but it's become much more important to leaders to assure that they have a civil and respectful workplace. There are liabilities, there are responsibilities for leadership that weren't there before. On the other end, going along with that, individuals are very sensitive to how they are being treated by others at work.

Michael Leiter:

At first glance, you may think that the responsibility for how people interact with each other at work is simply something for the employees to look after themselves, but that's really changing in today's environment. There is expectations from boards, expectations from senior leadership for leaders to have an active involvement in the quality of those interactions. What we've found with our research is that when there are problematic workplace cultures, they rarely fix themselves. It really does take some clear action from leadership in order to help a group find its way to a more positive workplace culture.

Michael Leiter:

An important point is distinguishing between incivility and more deliberate and intense kinds of negative interactions like abuse or bullying. Those kinds of interactions do happen at work. They're very important to have a clear and definitive response to bullying and abuse when it happens at work. But, it's really problematic when every bit of minor incivility, rudeness is considered bullying, because that assumes that the perpetrator has an agenda, is got an intention to be really a cruel to another person.

Michael Leiter:

What we find in the research, it's much more often that people will be inconsiderate, thoughtless, maybe just even uninformed about the impact of their behaviour on other people. And then, when you attributed to them that they have this nefarious intention, they're going, 'That's not me. I can't take responsibility for that.' So, when you understand really what's going on and can look at incivility as it truly exists, you're going to have a much greater opportunity for people to feel accountable for their behaviour, and to actively work with you to improve that workplace culture.

Michael Leiter:

My first work with trying to improve workplace civility came with looking at CREW, Civility, Respect, Engagement at Work in Canada. There we found that a work group approach that really focused on the culture rather than trying to improve individuals through education or treatment, but to really work with the workplace culture, was an effective way to improve the quality of civility and respect among people at work. We found that that improvement did happened, and then downstream that had really great effects in terms of reducing burnout and increasing people's commitment, and just really their engagement and enjoyment of work.

Michael Leiter:

What we've done since then is say, 'Okay, CREW was effective but it also took 20 odd meetings, weekly meetings in order to have that kind of impact.' Since then, I've been working here in Australia, developing a variation called SCORE, that brings it down to five sessions, a few weeks apart with a professional facilitator to be able to implement those sessions just right. That, we're hoping, is going to demonstrate that the effect can happen in a much more practical and manageable way for organisations today.

Michael Leiter:

With our initial work with SCORE, we found that this process is effective and increasing the participants' awareness of their level of civility and incivility with their colleagues, of helping them feel accountable for improving their workplace culture, and then taking action through changing their own behaviour, how they interact with each other day-to-day. Our initial results are showing that SCORE is associated with improved positive interactions among people at work, fewer incivility incidents among people at work. Going along with that, we found an increase in the positive mental health index and a decrease in indicators of burnout.

Michael Leiter:

I'm very pleased to be part of Comcare's Mental Health Community of Practice event, on improving workplace culture and civility. I'll now hand it over to Jo Wintle, who will tell you more about the work that we've been doing.

Jo Wintle:

Wonderful. Thank you very much for that introduction, Jill. I've been very fortunate to have worked with Michael for the last three years on the SCORE program. Today, I'm going to talk to you in a little bit more depth around his theoretical work, and also the research that he's done into workplace civility.

Jo Wintle:

So, as Michael talked about, the little stuff really matters. People are very sensitive to picking up the micro cues that others are giving off when we interact with them. This speaks to the heart of who we are. It talks about, are we seen, are we heard, and are we valued by others? We really feel this very, very deeply in terms of our sense of self. What we know is that ladies in a modern working environment have great responsibility for creating cultures that are respectful. What we also know from the research, is that you need to do something differently from what you're currently doing to be able to create that change.

Jo Wintle:

When we talk about the domains of negative social encounters and we think about incivility, what we're really talking about here, is really low intensity behaviour. But, it can cover a wide range of behaviours. So, it could be the rolling of the eyes in a meeting, it could be someone sitting at the desk in the boardroom and tapping on their mobile phone, it could be the ... sigh that happens when someone's talking to you, it could be actively disengaging from the conversation, it could be the whispering when you walk into the room, it could also be someone walking into the room and saying hello to others, but not saying hello to you. All of these micro behaviours are linked to incivility.

Jo Wintle:

When we think about it, incivility is low intensity and low intention. It can be quite ambiguous in terms of the intent. People could look at the behaviour and say, 'Well, is that person actually being rude to me or not? I'm not sure.' Particularly, when you get that sort of dark sense of humour at times that comes through, where people say something nasty and then they'll go, 'Oh, I'm only joking. I didn't mean it. No, it's just a joke.' It's this type of behaviour that we're talking about.

Jo Wintle:

Thoughtlessness is often low intensity, and also low intention. This can be really annoying. So, if you're working in an open plan environment and someone comes in and starts speaking at the top of their lungs, this can be really annoying and frustrating behaviour, but it's certainly not considered abuse and/or bullying. When we move into the higher intensity and higher intention, we start to look at bullying behaviours, and often power is associated with this.

Jo Wintle:

One of the challenges here, also is that if a leader is demonstrating negative behaviours that potentially might actually be uncivil as opposed to bullying, people are much more likely to attribute intent to their behaviours in comparison to their peers or direct reports. One of the challenges that we face in the working environment is often all of these behaviours get grouped together as bullying behaviour, when in actual fact they're not. There are quite different strategies for addressing bullying behaviour, as opposed to bullying uncivil behaviour.

Jo Wintle:

As Michael mentioned, when someone's being rude and insensitive towards you and you call that bullying behaviour, often someone will step back and not take ownership of that behaviour because they'll say, 'That's not my intent.' So, they'll disengage from that discussion. Whereas, if you open up the conversation and say, 'Well, when this happened, this is how I felt,' people are much more likely to take accountability and responsibility for that behaviour and apologise and say, 'Sorry, that's not my intent,' and then reframe their behaviour.

Jo Wintle:

What are the potential outcomes for workplace civility? What we find, is that if you don't actually do anything differently from what you're currently doing to address the issues around workplace civility, the behaviour will continue. You won't see any shift in that behaviour. It's also a very slippery slope in terms of work group cultures, where we see a shift from disrespectful behaviours through to those bullying behaviours, if they're not addressed with the work group and individuals within that group.

Jo Wintle:

Also, if nothing changes, then people tend to disengage from the environment that they're in, they're disengaging from the group, and often you'll find them withholding information and so on, from others within the work group. There's a significant cost associated with incivility and not addressing that, in terms of time, dollars, energy, productivity, and also increased risk for the organisation.

Jo Wintle:

The organisational impact of workplace civility. Before I go into this detail, I'd just like you to think and pause for a moment and think about your working day. Reflect upon a time, when the last time someone was actually quite rude to you at work and you felt that you were being disrespected in that moment. I just want you to think about how you felt in that moment. What was the impact on you for the rest of the day? How did you sleep that night? Were you lying awake, ruminating about the situation, and replaying it in your head? How did you feel when you were driving to work the next morning? How did you feel when you think you had to confront or see the person who was rude or disrespectful to you?

Jo Wintle:

What we know from research that's been done by Pearson and Porath in 2009, they found in their research that even one incident of incivility can result in decreased work effort, increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, because people spend that time... I mean you can imagine, if you're sitting at your desk and someone walks past and they say hello to two other people, but they completely walk past you and ignore you. You might be sitting at your desk for the next five, 10 minutes going, 'What have I done? What didn't they say hello to me? Are they upset with me?' You spend the rest of the day pondering what's going on in terms of that work dynamic and that relationship that you have with the other.

Jo Wintle:

What we found, in terms of the work that we did with Western Health... and, one of the motivators for them to start to think about really putting in some significant strategies to increase a positive workplace culture, is that in 2015 the cost for absenteeism alone where people said, 'I don't want to go to work to work with my team anymore. I'm sick of them', was around 16 million for one year. So, they recognise that they needed to do something significantly differently from what they were currently doing. They've embarked on a large scale strategy, of which the SCORE program is one initiative to start to drive a positive workplace culture.

Jo Wintle:

The impact of negative interactions that people have with others and the downstream impact in terms of people's mental health, include increased incidences of burnout, depression, reduced sleep, anxiety, and poor immune functioning. So, what we know is that your brain doesn't differentiate between a broken arm and social isolation. These both actually really hurt.

Jo Wintle:

When we think about work group culture, because SCORE works on work group culture. We take intact teams and we work with them to start to think about what is the culture? How do they do business around here? What does their day-to-day look like? We can see in a constructive culture, where teams are working really well together, they had a shared mission. They had a shared sense of purpose, that they're working together to try and achieve. They demonstrate behaviours that are civil and respectful towards each other, including acknowledging others when they come into the room, acknowledging others' effort, assisting others when they need help and doing that proactively. They're more accepting of others when they come into the team. So, if there's a new member coming into the team or it might be someone that's just working on the floor for that day, they're welcoming of that individual.

Jo Wintle:

They appreciate each other's effort. They say, 'Thank you for that. I really appreciated that. That was really helpful.' They accommodate, so they make space for each other in the day-to-day. Whether it's making space in the lunch room so someone can sit down with you, whether it's inviting a whole group of people to come for a coffee with you that day, that you wouldn't normally invite, and so on. These are civil and respectful behaviours. What happens is people working within these positive workplace cultures tend to have a very strong relationship with their leader.

Jo Wintle:

The inverse is also true, in terms of a dysfunctional culture. What we see when there is disrespect that is prevalent within the work group, is that individual goals become the foremost area of focus for people, as opposed to the work group mission. So, personal agendas become very important. You can understand that say, for example, within the health context in a hospital, if nurses are worrying about their one-on-one relationship with each other and they're disengaging from each other, the team mission and best care, patient care is likely to take a back seat in relation to that.

Jo Wintle:

Certainly, we see a lot of negative behaviours take place in the day-to-day. Some of the most significant effects of incivility, aside from ignoring others, and gossiping and undermining, is that people can actively start to sabotage each other. They can purposely withhold information for each other. You can understand in certain environments, this poses a significant risk. Certainly, the relationship with the leader is often not as strong. Particularly, because if people don't see the leader dealing with those behaviours and calling them out, or the leader themselves is demonstrating these behaviours, it can become quite a toxic work group culture.

Jo Wintle:

Our research at Western Health and at the AFP, but this particular data is based on research that we did with Western Health, indicated that for a normal team, a normal working unit at Western Health that we studied, in terms of the incidences of positive to negative encounters, we found that from a unit manager it was generally five to one. So, five positive encounters to one negative encounter. In terms of co-workers, it's a similar step. For a normal average group, it's five to one. Whereas when we looked at individuals, and how often they themselves were positive towards others as opposed to negative, the ratio increase quite dramatically to 25 to one. What's really interesting about that, is self-perceptions that people have in terms of their behaviours towards each other. So, they'll say, 'I'm fantastic, I'm really lovely. Every single encounter that I have with my work group is a positive work encounter. Where negativity exists, it's them, it's not me.'

Jo Wintle:

So, what this led us to talk about and reflect upon, was limits to insight that people have around their own behaviours and how they are perceived by others. Particularly, in terms of their intention. Also, it doesn't enable them to take accountability for those behaviours, when they're not aware of those. One of the core components of SCORE, is around lifting insight and awareness around our own behaviours, and how they impact others.

Jo Wintle:

What we found, also, in the working environments where there was a high incidence of negative behaviours, is the ratio was one to one. So, every time you walked into a room, you didn't know what you were getting. You had a 50% chance of someone being polite to you, you also had a 50% chance of someone being really rude to you. You can imagine the cost on the individuals and the teams, in terms of their psychological wellbeing, the emotional effort, and the physical effort and energy it takes to work in that environment every day.

Jo Wintle:

Let's talk about the SCORE process. Basically, what we're looking at here is targeting work group culture. So, we work with a team, we don't do something to a team. The team or the intact unit, are very much active agents in this process. SCORE actually works on building the positive, to improve how work groups work together. One of the key features of the SCORE program, is to establish psychological safety with the team, so they feel safe enough to be able to talk about what is happening for them in their day-to-day. That's the role of the facilitators. So, we need a trained facilitator who's very experienced, to be able to work with these groups. Because, as you can imagine, in the sessions we're starting to explore some of the challenging experiences that people are having in their daily existence at work.

Jo Wintle:

We also partner with the organisation and have co-facilitators as well. So, the co-facilitator is from the organisation. It could be a unit manager, if there is a positive relationship with the unit manager. It could be someone who's in the people and culture team, it could be someone who's in an operational role that has a relationship with that team. We work with them, and together the role is to create that psychological safety with the work group.

Jo Wintle:

Part of that process, is also about establishing ground rules. So, we spend a lot of time with the team on this, in terms of identifying what are the things that we need to do as a group to be able to support each other, so that we feel safe to discuss what's happening in the day-to-day with each other. Once again, within that dynamic, you're thinking about people who may have had a longstanding, disengaging relationship, or a negative relationship with people for a number of years.

Jo Wintle:

Again, people need to start to think about, 'How can I talk about these issues, and call them out within this group, when that person is sitting there.' I can't underestimate the component of psychological safety. That is really important to be able to be successful with this program. We recognise the existing culture. So, we talk about what does life look like here? What happens in terms of the respectful behaviours? When you're behaving really positively towards each other and really respectfully towards each other, what does that actually look like? What are you seeing? What are the words that people are saying to each other? How does that make you feel?

Jo Wintle:

Then, we also talk about disrespect. What does that look like for this group? Because, different work groups will have different behaviours. They'll have different cultures within those work groups. So, each work group will establish their own set of ground rules. They'll talk about what is disrespectful for them. They'll talk about what is respectful for them. Basically, if you think about the work that's done by Daniel Kahneman, in terms of fast and slow thinking, our role is basically establishing a bubble if you like, and suspending the normal daily behaviours of this work group. We're slowing things down for them, because with fast thinking, that perpetuates what the team is already doing.

Jo Wintle:

We need to slow that down and provide an opportunity for them to pause, to reflect, to explore, to share, and gain insight and awareness around what is happening for them in the day-to-day. And then, think about how they can shift that behaviour? How they can change that, to be able to lift the positive interactions that they have with each other and find new and different ways of operating with each other. So, we start with understanding, we reflect on that behaviour, we gain insight, and then we develop new skills so that they become habitual behaviours that they can then embed in the team culture and continue that behaviour moving forward.

Jo Wintle:

The SCORE process itself, what does it look like? As Michael mentioned in his opening, we have five sessions that are 90 minutes per session. Typically, we like to have these sessions three to four weeks apart from each other. The reason why we do this, is it provides an opportunity for people to consciously observe the interactions that are happening in the day-to-day, both respectful and disrespectful interactions, and reflect on that, and start to observe the impact that that has, not only on themselves and their teammates, but others within that working environment.

Jo Wintle:

It also provides them an opportunity to try new and different things. Hypothesis testing. Between each session we give them homework to do, where they have an opportunity to try behaving in a different way towards each other. Then, reflect on the impact on that, and then they bring those insights to the next session and we explore them in greater depth. As I mentioned, we work with a work group, we don't do anything to a work group. This is purely voluntary, in terms of participation. The work group themselves, are very much active agents within this process.

Jo Wintle:

What do the five sessions look like? In session one, we start to unpack the concepts around civility and incivility. We start to establish psychological safety with the group, and we spend a lot of time in terms of creating the ground rules for the team. Part of this process, also involves a survey that goes out prior to the SCORE intervention. We do an assessment during the intervention, and we also do an assessment post intervention. We've got an understanding about the impact of it, and also from an organisational perspective, there's an opportunity to be able to demonstrate the return on investment. Particularly, when you're looking at that culture change and that shift in behaviour.

Jo Wintle:

So, in session one, that's where we present the results back to the work group. We say, 'This is what life looks like for you guys.' This can be particularly confronting when you're dealing with work groups where there's quite a toxic environment. You can start to see the emotion rise up in people, because they're actually having their lived experience reflected back at them. We start to say, 'Well, how do you feel about this?' Part of this process, is about really gaining buy-in, because we know that we can shift this behaviour. There is absolutely a hope message here.

Jo Wintle:

Session one and session two are about understanding, what are the really positive, respectful things that you're demonstrating towards each other and how can we lift that? It's really low hanging fruit. So, in session one and session two, we look to saturate the work group and the working environment with positive interactions. We get people to actively demonstrate respectful behaviours towards people that they wouldn't have necessarily done that in the day-to-day. We ask them to come back with their observations and reflections and insights that they've gained from that process. It's actually a lovely experience, because the room lifts. People start to share and understand more deeply, when they are respectful towards someone else. They end up having a great day and there's that flow-on effect in terms of reciprocity.

Jo Wintle:

In session two, we start to look at the power of reciprocity, whereby if someone's disrespectful towards me, I'm much more likely to be disrespectful towards you in return. If you're respectful towards me, I'm also much more likely to be respectful towards you in return. We start understand what this looks like. Part of the SCORE process, is getting people to do something differently. We often get huge sighs when we say this involves role-plays. Everybody, 'Oh my God, not role-plays.' Or, in-session activities as we call them. But, basically this is really important. We've created a safe space and this is getting people to do something differently. They need to work in this process.

Jo Wintle:

So, the role plays are really helpful, in terms of increasing people's awareness and insight regarding their own behaviours. We get them to act out respectful interactions towards each other. We also get them to act out disrespectful interactions towards each other and get feedback on what others are seeing, in terms of the micro cues that they are giving off. Now, often we're aware of some of the micro cues that we give off when we're being respectful towards each other or disrespectful towards each other. But, there's a whole gamut of behaviour there that we're not aware of. So, it's actually quite helpful to get that insight and feedback from others, around what does disrespectful behaviour look like.

Jo Wintle:

For example, in one of the work groups that we were working with, there was a lady who was demonstrating a disrespectful interaction, and the observer of the group said, 'Oh, every time you did that, you rolled your eyes.' She looked at her and she said, 'I do not roll my eyes.' The group said, 'You do roll your eyes.' She said, 'I do not roll my eyes.' And then, more people sort of came in and said, 'Well, actually you do roll your eyes.' Finally, she had this penny drop moment. It's kind of like, 'Ah'.

Jo Wintle:

This sort of links back to that intentional piece. There are so many micro cues that we give off, that people can perceive as being disrespectful, even though that's not our intent. It could be tone of voice. It could be facial features that we're demonstrating. It could be a slight movement, a slight action that we have, that people misinterpret as being disrespectful. And then, they'll place that intent on us, even though that's not actually the case. These sessions are very helpful in starting to unpack that and create awareness for people about their own behaviours. Even though it's not intentional, others might be reading it as being disrespectful.

Jo Wintle:

There are plenty of aha moments that happen, when we start to discuss this as a group. People will be highlighting behaviours and you can see people going, 'Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. Well yeah, I think I do that. Yeah, I know I've done that one before. Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, that one's me.' So, we start to be able to take greater ownership of these behaviours.

Jo Wintle:

Session three is about teaching people some skills and strategies that they can put in place to actively respond to disrespect in the moment. Because, often we're in that moment and people don't know how to operate. That's where that power of reciprocity comes in. Our first gut reaction is either to be disrespectful in return, or withdraw and disengage from that conversation. We start to teach people some skills and strategies that they can apply, to name the framing, so that we can unpack intent. Once we've clarified that intent, we're able to move on with the discussion. We get them to apply this within session, but also we get them to practice this with each other in between sessions. It can be a really powerful process.

Jo Wintle:

Session four is about working on regardless. We're taking the work group on a journey, and what we recognised is that 80% of the people in the team might be on that journey wholeheartedly. There might be 10% who are a little bit half and half, and there might be five to 10% of people that are actively saying, 'No, this is not me. That's not the way I behave. It's not my personality. This is just who I am, take me or leave me.' So, it's about working with the team to be able to say, 'Well, how can we continue on this? You've put the hard yards in place. How can you continue on the journey, even though someone may continue with that disrespectful behaviour? How can you forego the opportunity to be disrespectful in return, and continue the great work, and work on, irregardless of their behaviour?' Once again, that can provide people with some really powerful insight around that.

Jo Wintle:

Finally, session five is about sustaining the gains. One of the powerful pieces about SCORE, is that once the intervention itself is finished, it's about upskilling people, and providing people with that knowledge, and sharing that knowledge so that the team itself and also the organisation can sustain the gains that have been made throughout the process. The co-facilitator plays a core role with this. In session five, the team decides, 'What are the actions and activities that we can do that really keep respect on the agenda for us in the day-to-day?' Once again, each team will be unique in terms of what works for them. It has to be really pragmatic. It has to be something that's applied. We explore, 'Is this something that's going to fall over in three months, because it's taking too much energy, it's shifting people too much?' It has to be something that they can really do in the day-to-day that is very helpful for them.

Jo Wintle:

Let's have a look at some of the results that we've obtained. This pilot study was done with wave one of Western Health, that we did in October 2018. The SCORE program ran with them from June to October, 2018. We had the pre-, during, and post-assessments. We had a control group as well, so we could compare that data. We had a number of scales that we did in this assessment. So, we had the social context scale that looked at behaviours such as civil behaviours, uncivil behaviours and also intimidation. The sources of that, we're looking at the relationship and the interactions between supervisor and the individual, their co-workers, and also thinking about themselves and what behaviours they themselves instigated. We had a burnout inventory that focused on exhaustion, cynicism, and efficacy.

Jo Wintle:

Finally, in terms of being really relevant for today's discussion, we also had a mental health index. It had three negative factors there. One that looked at how nervous people felt in the day-to-day, whether they felt down in the dumps, whether they're experiencing sadness or they felt unhappy in the day-to-day. It had two positive factors. Did they feel happy, and did they feel calm and able to effectively manage their daily experiences.

Jo Wintle:

What you can see here, and I might just move around, just to make sure that people can see. In the red here, we have the control group, and in the orange over here we have the SCORE group that participated in the study. For this particular group, you can see that supervisor's civility in the control group actually, they went down a little bit, but not significantly so. But, certainly the supervisor civility went up as a result of the program. So, we saw a lift there around their behaviours.

Jo Wintle:

In terms of co-workers civility, you can see the control group, the behaviour stayed the same. There was no intervention, so people just kept on doing what it was that they were normally doing. Whereas, for the groups that participated in SCORE, we can see a significant shift here, in terms of a lift around civil behaviours and civil interactions. So, we certainly improved the positive for that group.

Jo Wintle:

In terms of reducing the negative, once again, we have the control supervisor group here, and then we have the supervisor group that participate in the process. We can see a significant drop in incivility, in terms of leadership behaviours that the team leaders were demonstrating. In the co-worker civility also, we've got our control here. We didn't see a shift here. We certainly saw a drop in those negative behaviours as well. When we talk about reducing bullying, once again, we have a significant shift here in terms of the SCORE participants. There's been a significant drop around bullying. Whereas, the control stayed the same. Certainly, in terms of the co-worker bullying as well, that has dropped. So, we're starting to get some quite positive results coming through here.

Jo Wintle:

In terms of wellbeing, we can see a marked shift in cynicism for the groups that participated in the SCORE program. One of the hypotheses that I have around that, is that they can see the organisation is really investing in them, and really investing in their work group culture. That's reflected within these results here. Most importantly, the mental health index. We can see a significant shift here, in terms of the mental health of our participants as well.

Jo Wintle:

So, what have we learnt? There are some primary lessons for us to take away from this process. First and foremost, we were able to increase awareness around incivility, and also increase awareness, and the impact of that increased awareness around civility and respectful behaviours. We know that purely by doing that, we started to see a shift in people's behaviours. We also increased accountability, so individuals and the work group themselves started to own that behaviour.

Jo Wintle:

In terms of facilitating the sessions, I'd see a marked shift in terms of the culture of the team, from the first session where people would sit in different spots, they wouldn't speak to each other, to by the end of the program everybody would come in, everybody would chat with everybody. There would be no cliques that were occurring within that group. The team starts to want to protect the positive work group culture. They really value it. They know it's beneficial for them, so they want to guard it. If someone new is coming into the team, how can we take them on the journey with us? If someone leaves the team, how can we still maintain the fabulous positive work group culture that we've created?

Jo Wintle:

We also were able to increase action with the group, and this is a key feature. The team were able to develop new skills and change and shift their behaviour. So, there's absolutely a message of hope here, in terms of being able to lift the positive and take people on a really positive journey. You can shift where group cultures, but you need to do something differently to be able to create and sustain that change. Thank you very much everyone for your time this morning.

Jill:

Thanks so much Jo, and of course Professor Leiter in his absence. It's just so nice to see this work. I actually remember many years ago, and I was trying to think when, I reckon six years or so ago, there was that really critical article in the Harvard Business Review, which you can still access if you look it up, The Price of Incivility. The Harvard Business Review is a pretty eminent journal, which covers all sorts of topics in business. It's definitely not an HR journal, or a workplace sort of cultural piece. At the time, I thought it was really good that HBR was publishing an article about this, and raising awareness. To see this work, which actually operationalises the concept, and then what you can actually do to intervene, I think it's incredibly positive.

Jill:

The other thing it brings to mind, is you've touched a lot, Jo, on psychological safety, which I've long believed is incredibly important. There's a lady called Amy Edmondson, who is a U.S. Professor who's written extensively about psychological safety. I think she had a book come out last year. Would highly, highly recommend that as a resource for anyone who's interested in this topic. We've probably got, Gretchen, five, 10 minutes or so?

Gretchen:

Yep.

Jill:

That five, 10 minutes for questions. I think we've got a couple from-

Gretchen:

Oh, they're pouring in.

Jill:

They're pouring in. All right. It's all right. Let's-

Gretchen:

Adelaide, then Sydney.

Jill:

We'll go Adelaide, Sydney, and then I'll come back to colleagues here in the room. So, Adelaide first, if we could.

Maria:

Hello, my name's Maria. On this is bright topic, thank you very much. What I was particularly interested to understand, because Jo talked about within a work group, how that works when you're actually a person within a work group who's actually dealing with an external stakeholder, and that stakeholder is displaying incivility?

Jo Wintle:

Great. Thank you so much for that question. Certainly, in the work that we did with Western Health, this was often the case with particular units and teams, in terms of working with other work groups and having a number of key stakeholders to engage with. So, the SCORE program works primarily with that work group unit. The skills that they learn are absolutely transferable in terms of any relationship that they have, whether it be with key stakeholders, whether it be people outside the organisation, even in their own personal life. The skills that people are learning are certainly transferable.

Jo Wintle:

We often talk about that. Stories come up about interactions that people may have had with, some doctors for example, and how can they respond to those behaviours. So, the group workshop that, and come up with some ideas that they think are going to be really constructive and helpful for that individual to be able to effectively manage that situation.

Jill:

Was it Sydney, Gretchen?

Gretchen:

Sydney.

Jill:

It's Sydney. Okay, over to Sydney.

Speaker 6:

Thank you. One of our questions from within the room, is in relation to what could be perceived as a banter and joking culture within a team, and how does such a culture potentially affect civility? So, the core question is really, how can a team keep this type of banter, which can be quite positive, without affecting civility and crossing a line, so to speak?

Gretchen:

Jo, can you stand in front of the camera when you answer?

Jo Wintle:

Okay, certainly. So, am I okay here?

Gretchen:

Yeah, that's fine.

Jo Wintle:

Great. Yep. Thank you. That's a really great question. We're working with a number of organisations, whereby that sort of dark humour... and, at times black humour can actually be a coping mechanism that's really powerful and supportive for people to get through the day-to-day. The challenge is that it sort of transcends that at times. So, in one of the work groups that we worked with at Western Health, they certainly did have that culture. What happened, the joking banter sort of shifted and became a bit darker, where basically people would put the knife in when they're having these conversations with each other and they go, 'Oh, I'm only joking. It's part of the way we do business around here.'

Jo Wintle:

So we talked about it. In session number one, when we were talking about the ground rules and we were talking about what's valuable and important, one brave person brought up this and said, 'Look, humour.' I could observe the humour within the group anyway. You could see it quite clearly. If you're walking into it, you can see it quite clearly. So, we explored that. Unfortunately a number of people within the team said, 'When people say this, I don't find it funny. It's not funny. In fact, I actually find it really offensive.' Or, 'It hurts when people say this.' The team actually explored, what's our line? Where is it helpful for us and supportive? When does it shift to become negative? They started to clearly articulate examples, and they drew the line together in terms of what's going to be most helpful for them.

Speaker 7:

I noticed in the data that you showed, that the control group had some improvement as well. Did you have any insights to that? Was that just starting to ask the question?

Jo Wintle:

Yeah, I think so. One of the things that did occur with SCORE, particularly at Western Health is that we had a very strong communications campaign about the program, before we actually started the program. What the research tells us, is even by talking about civility, you start to lift civility, because you're increasing people's awareness around that. That's a hypothesis, but from my perspective, that may have been one of the variables that contributed to that slight lift that we saw within those work groups.

Jo Wintle:

Also, the other thing is they observed a shift in some instances, particularly if they're a work group that worked closely with one of the teams that we were working with, people were talking about the experience. We had people coming in on their days off, this is voluntary, to participate within the sessions, within the hospital setting. So, you can see that started to have a really positive impact in terms of the relationships that people have with each other.

Speaker 8:

Hello. Just with your pilot group, you obviously had quite improvement with the impact evaluation. Will you be going back again to look at what happens three or six months later?

Jo Wintle:

Certainly. We're going back 12 months. Michael is actually going to go back and start to interview a number of participants that were in that team. We're also collecting anecdotal evidence from supervisors of those groups. One of the other metrics that we don't have here, is that Western Health is also collecting customer feedback. So, in terms of the downstream impact, in terms of best care, patient care, if the team are working really well with each other, we've seen anecdotally, a lift in the relationships in the way in which the nurses are engaging with families, as well as the way in which they're engaging with patients.

Jo Wintle:

So yes, we are definitely doing that. Within one of the teams that had the highest incidences of absenteeism, it dropped for the first time in five years quite significantly. We are collecting that data as well.

Jill:

Excellent.

Jo Wintle:

All right.

Jill:

Could you all just join me in thanking Joe, and Professor Leiter for a terrific presentation.

Page last reviewed: 15 March 2020
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Date printed 24 Sep 2021

https://www.comcare.gov.au/about/forms-publications/transcriptions/strengthening-a-culture-of-respect-and-engagement-in-the-workplace-video-transcript