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The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It Hardcover – July 9, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Most Americans have encountered unpleasant or even hostile colleagues and bosses, but incivility is more than just a human resources problem: it also has a financial cost, argue Pearson and Porath, management professors at Thunderbird School of Global Management and the University of Southern California, respectively. The authors identify the range of behaviors that may be perceived as rude (e.g., inappropriate use of cell, texting during meetings, shutting someone out of a network or team) and quantify the costs of lost time and productivity by disgruntled workers making reduced efforts and possibly suffering from weakened commitment, stress or health problems. Citing such companies with positive cultures as Cisco Systems and Starbucks, the authors illustrate how strong leadership nurtures an environment of cooperation and respect. While the data on the prevalence of rudeness in the workplace is disturbing, the authors maintain an optimistic tone and provide credible, useful tips for managers who recognize that valuing people is not only the right thing to do but the key to profit and productivity. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
-Marshall Goldsmith, bestselling author, What Got You There Won't Get You There and Succession
"Thoroughly researched, clearly written, and with a set of action steps that can save lives and create workplaces that are creative and productive, humane institutions that reclaim the respect we all want and deserve."
-Warren Bennis, from the foreword
"Two towering figures, Christine Pearson and Christine Porath, have now condensed their valuable finds in an agile and eminently readable book. I urge leaders of all stripes to spend a week reading it, reflecting on it, and then planning vital organizational culture changes accordingly."
-P. M. Forni, professor, Johns Hopkins University, and author of The Civility Solution
"Want a plan of action to cut costs at your firm? You will find one in this book, which can save your business some serious dollars."
-G. Richard Shell, Thomas Gerrity Professor, Wharton School of Business, and coauthor of The Art of Woo
"A vitally important, profound, original, and timely book. Blessedly brief, poignant, and clearly written, this book offers concrete advice that can bolster not only the bottom line but also the lifeblood of any business."
-Edward Hallowell, MD, author of Driven to Distraction and CrazyBusy
"Very readable and full of good ideas. This book does a terrific job of translating research into practice."
-Edward Lawler, author of Talent
"A highly readable and deeply insightful book."
-Warren Christopher, former U.S. Secretary of State
"The authors usefully document not only the costs of incivility, but also the potential benefits of creating cultures in which good behavior is the norm. This is the work of the brightest emerging stars in the business school firmament."
-James O'Toole, author of The Executive's Compass and coauthor of Trransparency
Top customer reviews
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"The Cost of Bad Behavior" by Christine Pearson and Christine Porath quantifies the clear and present danger in stark detail and they support their argument with irrefutable data that is both compelling and horrifying.
"As we look across society today, an important question for us becomes: Is incivility really as bad as it seems? The answer seems to be yes..."
Their assessments of the high dollar cost of disrespectful behavior, particularly in the workplace nothing short of sickening. From the introduction:
Percentage of people in the United States who:
*Believe incivility is a problem: 80 percent
*Have experienced incivility at work: 96 percent
*Experience stress because of workplace incivility: 60 percent
The cost? The authors cite that 12 percent of workers leave their jobs because they were treated uncivily.
Average price of replacing each of those employees: $50,000
Annual cost of job stress to U.S. corporations: $300 billion
Amount of time Fortune 1000 executives spend resolving employee conflicts: 7 WEEKS per year (emphasis added)
In one particularly compelling case study Pearson and Porath detail the efforts of Cisco Systems to analyze the cost of incivility in their company. Note that arguably, the fact that Cisco was so pro-active in their approach indicates that their results probably represent the lower end of the damage spectrum as they are obviously an example of a company with a very positive workplace culture. Still, Cisco found that "the organization wide costs for potential time lost by targets who worried about additional uncivil incidents and future interactions with offenders totaled nearly $2 million per year. With estimates for the costs of weakened commitment (also calculated as lost productivity value) and job changes (calculated on the basis of cost per hire) added in, the total topped $8 million."
They add that this is not the ultimate cost- it's just the "starting point" and doesn't include secondary costs!
You may not run a global corporation like Cisco. For the small business person the cost in proportion to the total output of the business may be even more devastating. If you have 4 employees, what is the impact of losing one employee to incivility? The authors provide a detailed accounting procedure to help you analyze this cost no matter what size business you operate.
The damage does not stop there.
"The Cost of Bad Behavior" explores the damage to our society on every level including our education system. Perhaps the most disturbing is the cost to the individual. Incivility and disrespect it seems actually alters your brain chemistry. "It seems that whether the snake is in the garden or in the next cubicle, flight or fight responses kick in."
Unchecked, this condition can destroy your health. "Incivility may spark an effect similar to post-traumatic stress disorder." Continued exposure to stress induced by an offender can cause "brain burn." Quoting Dr. Edward Hallowell, the authors claim that "This leaves a scar that is not only psychological but physical. According to Hallowell, high levels of adrenaline pumped through the body under these conditions actually burn a hole in the brain, creating a permanent `tatoo.'"
This damage is lasting and untreated can leave an indelible mark on one's life.
While I greatly appreciate "The Cost of Bad Behavior" for saving me the trouble of having to conduct expensive scientific studies to support the value of my work in workplace respect, my endorsement is really inspired by the solutions the authors offer. They're not leaving us to wring our hands and wait for the imminent collapse of civilization; they detail clear steps you can take to cultivate and maintain a respectful environment at work or on campus.
For the record- incivility and disrespect does not necessarily include playful teasing, welcome flirting or even scathing comedy in the proper context. It does not include firm but warranted criticism and even appropriate expressions of anger. Political correctness is no solution and neither is the attempt to sanitize our language or culture.
The solution is to empower people to be more confident and resilient and less susceptible to the damaging effects of incivility while also enforcing clear standards of civility and respect where appropriate, particularly at work and on campus. To be blunt, you don't go to work or school to be abused.
The continuing advance of communication technology that can create barriers of anonymity and remove us from the direct face to face interaction we're designed to handle, this problem will likely grow- unless we're willing to commit to a sincere effort to restore respect and civility to our culture.
"The Cost of Bad Behavior" is an essential addition to your Black Belt Mindset library- and one that may just save you lots of money, help you keep your health and sanity and most important- inspire you to be part of the solution!
Author of THINK Like a BLACK BELT
This book is an important read for executives, OD and HR professionals. Too few companies have winning organizational cultures, most won't admit it, rather they blame the economy and or competition. This book identifies the the adverse effects of negative energy. I hope it causes those of us who are bosses to realize the difference we could make by creating a high energy, excited, collaborative and loyal team.