Creating a More Civil Workplace

As president and CEO of ELI®, Inc., a learning and consulting company that teaches and advises on professional workplace conduct, Steve Paskoff has spent more than 30 years creating more civil workplaces. Paskoff recently visited NEOMED to discuss his company’s signature Civil Treatment® facilitated discussions with President Gershen and the Leadership Team. While he was on campus, Paskoff talked about how he hopes the discussions will shape NEOMED’s culture with a heightened emphasis on civility.

How do these trainings provide long-term benefits for the organization?

SP: Bad behaviors interfere with concentration, focus and teamwork. Inclusive, productive behaviors yield just the opposite. When organizations build Civil Treatment® workplaces, it maximizes the kinds of behaviors that generate long-term results. In health care, uncivil, unprofessional treatment can lead to communication errors and other problems that generate complications and, sadly, fatalities. There are other related negative effects, all of which can be limited (that  is, prevented), detected and corrected in a Civil Treatment® organization.

How can an organization’s culture help employees and the organization reach its goals?

SP: Culture is basically the way people do things, which is a form of routinized behavior. Cultural lessons are passed along informally and are supported by how people are recognized, awarded, and—when  needed—required to change their conduct. When the culture is strong, there can be a self-enforcing component that contributes to the kinds of behaviors noted above.

What value do the trainings have for employees?

SP: Employees who work together need to function as a team. Technical proficiency is important, but how individuals communicate, develop ideas and handle problems relies on how they behave and work together. In a Civil Treatment® organization, employees work as a matter of culture with the same standards of excellence as their leaders. In fact, leaders reinforce this among employees, employees reinforce it with leaders, and employees reinforce it with one another as well as others.

What would you say to an employee who may not understand the importance of attending the civil treatment sessions?

SP: I would ask them a question: Wouldn’t it be worth your time to learn just a few simple acts that would make your work and that of your colleagues more productive and efficient in a way that will save time, not cost money, and improve the quality of the services at NEOMED? That’s what Civil Treatment® does, and I promise you it won’t be a boring lecture; it will be relevant to your job, and you’ll leave with lessons and skills you can apply on your job.

How do you help organizations to engage in civil treatment?

SP: Civil Treatment® is an organizational approach and commitment based on the premise that business behavior drives business results. Professional, legal behavior helps individuals and teams do their best work and find out about problems as well as new ideas. To build a Civil Treatment® culture, we help organizations define core behaviors, get senior leadership commitment, communicate key messages, and then teach basic skills. All of this must be reinforced and made a natural part of the way an organization operates so that it becomes just the way things are done – a cultural standard that endures.

What led you towards civility training as your career?

SP: I believe in fairness, inclusion and respect, and the related benefits that affect individuals and their organizations. When I practiced law, I saw many instances where various forms of incivility – behavior that was either illegal or inappropriate—caused inefficiency, waste, and personal or career damage. I thought it would be a great way to take my background and apply it so as to improve the work lives of others and the health of organizations with which I had a chance to work.

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