Creativity can thrive in the right atmosphere and choke in the wrong one.
What is the ‘right’ atmosphere?
It’s civil. It’s rich with respect, kindness, helpfulness, and active listening. In fact, civility makes the work environment more pleasant and that enables employees to produce more … better … results.
Don’t take my word for it. I was reminded recently of a 2015 NY Times piece “No Time To Be Nice At Work” by Christine Porath, Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. She focuses on the impact of incivility in the workplace.
In short, Porath’s research reveals the impact of un-civility on:
- focus (it went down)
- mistakes (they went up),
- employee problem-solving and idea-generation (it worsened).
In one study, an experimenter belittled a group of peers. Afterward, they performed 33% worse on anagram word puzzles and came up with 39% fewer creative ideas during a brainstorming task.
In a second study, participants encountered a rude, admonishing stranger — a “busy professor” – en route to the experiment. Afterward, their performance was 61% worse on word puzzles and they produced 58% fewer ideas in the brainstorming task than those who had not been treated rudely.
There were side effects on witnesses and customers:
The study found that witnesses of the incivility performed 22% worse on word puzzles and produced 28% fewer ideas in the brainstorming task.
… Employees began to contribute less and lose their conviction,
… and customers quit patronizing the business.
About your workplace – are you feeling the love?
Is your workplace suffering from the stressors of these crazy times? Is sense of community falling and lack of civility raising? Here are ways to check. Do your employees:
- Do employees seem more on edge?
- Do you see more staff conflict with coworkers, vendors or clients?
- Do more employees work from home and engage in person less?
- Do employees seem less focused, less productive?
- Is your team producing fewer creative, high-quality ideas?
- Do they seem exhausted at the prospect of another problem to solve?
If so, ask yourself – are your employees feeling the love? Or, has workplace civility taken a back-seat to crisis thinking, confusion, and exhaustion during these challenging times?
If so, the impact can be significant. According to Porath, you can expect less creativity: less relevant, innovative problem-solving, and fewer of the ‘good ideas’ that make your brand or business stand out.
You can expect more senseless mistakes, less focus, and less of the productivity that moves your business forward. I will add that if this goes on too long, you can expect more turnover.
Don’t Let Loss of Love Cost You Business
According to Porath’s research, even in the best of times, attending to, supporting, and caring for each other has a lot to do with our levels of creativity and performance.
Can I get some agreement that ‘the best of times’ doesn’t describe the 2020’s so far?! Turns out, sharing the love, civility and taking a moment for some people-time may be just the thing we humans need to turn this 2020’s thing around.
Don’t know how? CEJ Studio offers coaching and classes on skills and techniques that help you create a happier, more motivated workplace. Reach out!