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The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It [Hardcover]

Christine Pearson , Christine Porath
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 14 2009
Why incivility at work is a bigger problem than you suspect

In an accessible and informative style, Pearson and Porath examine the toll that bad behavior can have on otherwise well-functioning companies. And they reveal strategies that successful organizations are using to stop incivility before it takes hold.

Whether it's a standoffish coworker or an arrogant boss, incivility at the office doesn't just affect the moods of a few employees; it hurts an entire company.

Consider these statistics: 12 percent of all employees say they've left jobs because they were treated badly. Fortune 1000 executives spend roughly seven weeks per year resolving employee conflicts. And an astonishing 95 percent of Americans say they've experienced rudeness at work.

Christine Pearson and Christine Porath examine the devastating toll that bad behavior can have on otherwise well-functioning companies. Combining their own scientific research with stories from fields as diverse as criminology, education, and psychology, they show how to spot the roots of incivility, rip them out, and create a culture of respect. They urge managers to stop making excuses, set a zero-tolerance policy, and lead by example.

Bestsellers like The No Asshole Rule and The Power of Nice have shown the hunger for more civility at work; now The Cost of Bad Behavior shows exactly what to do about it.


Frequently Bought Together

The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It + The Bully-Free Workplace: Stop Jerks, Weasels, and Snakes From Killing Your Organization + The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't
Price For All Three: CDN$ 57.14

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Review

"Pearson and Porath have hit upon a major issue facing businesses today. Learn the cost of bad behavior and what to do about it in this fascinating, not-to-be-missed book!"
-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




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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to eliminate toxic waste in the workplace Aug. 20 2009
By Robert Morris HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
As Christine Pearson and Christine Porath acknowledge, the total cost of incivility can be estimated but not calculated because (a) the total cost consists of much more than out-of-pocket expenditures and (b) it is impossible to know the nature and extent of damage to self-image, morale, latent pathologies (e.g. hostility), and motivation of perpetrators and their victims. Then, of course, there are the collateral costs associated with others (e.g. family members and friends) who also become involved. Let's just say that the cost of uncivil behavior is substantial. That's the bad news. Now the good news. According to Pearson and Porath, much of it is avoidable.

For example, it is possible to reduce (if not eliminate) incivility in the workplace. After leading off with an especially relevant quotation of Albert Einstein ("The world is a dangerous place, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."), Pearson and Porath devote most of Chapter 13 to explaining how to create a civil workplace. Here is an abbreviation of their suggestions, "grounded in hard evidence - interviews and survey results with thousands of targets of incivility, not to mention discussions, focus groups, and interviews of hundreds of executives and managers."

1. Set zero-tolerance expectations. They must be driven by senior management or they won't go anywhere.

2. Look in the mirror. How do you measure up in terms of your attitude and behavior? What example are you setting?

3. Weed out trouble before it enters your organization. Screen potential clients as rigorously as you do job candidates. Review Point #1.

4. Teach civility.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Such Behavior Astounds Aug. 3 2010
By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I have long been fascinated by how individuals get away with behavior in the workplace that would not be tolerated in grade school. The authors have done a fabulous job bringing attention to this acute problem in many businesses along with the emotional and tangible costs that result. But to me the subject of 'incivility' goes beyond inappropriate texting and conversation interruptions. The least beneficial behavior is far worse and may have once been called "office politics". It is when individuals or factions fight it out with each other using petty tactics like withholding information, CC:ing a large number of people to embarrass or denigrate someone's performance, or voicing support for an initiative publicly but doing all to derail it behind the scenes. This behavior remains incredible to me even after 20+ years in corporations especially since all it does is benefit one's competitors in the market where the real fight should take place. The book is well researched and the authors are cautiously optimistic regarding human behavior. However, I am left wondering if it is the corporation's responsibility to correct the behavior of employees who have patterned themselves in a negative way from their formative years.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to eliminate toxic waste in the workplace July 10 2009
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As Christine Pearson and Christine Porath acknowledge, the total cost of incivility can be estimated but not calculated because (a) the total cost consists of much more than out-of-pocket expenditures and (b) it is impossible to know the nature and extent of damage to self-image, morale, latent pathologies (e.g. hostility), and motivation of perpetrators and their victims. Then, of course, there are the collateral costs associated with others (e.g. family members and friends) who also become involved. Let's just say that the cost of uncivil behavior is substantial. That's the bad news. Now the good news. According to Pearson and Porath, much of it is avoidable.

For example, it is possible to reduce (if not eliminate) incivility in the workplace. After leading off with an especially relevant quotation of Albert Einstein ("The world is a dangerous place, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."), Pearson and Porath devote most of Chapter 13 to explaining how to create a civil workplace. Here is an abbreviation of their suggestions, "grounded in hard evidence - interviews and survey results with thousands of targets of incivility, not to mention discussions, focus groups, and interviews of hundreds of executives and managers."

1. Set zero-tolerance expectations. They must be driven by senior management or they won't go anywhere.

2. Look in the mirror. How do you measure up in terms of your attitude and behavior? What example are you setting?

3. Weed out trouble before it enters your organization. Screen potential clients as rigorously as you do job candidates. Review Point #1.

4. Teach civility. Make certain everyone in the organization understands what civility is so that they can help to establish and sustain (and when necessary, defend) a culture of civility.

5. Train employees and managers. For example, explain how to recognize and cope with the inappropriate behavior of "cunning offenders."

6. Put your ear to the ground and listen carefully. One option is 360º feedback. Be alert to consensus of opinion and a pattern of uncivil behavior.

7. "When incivility occurs, hammer it." Incivility is like cancer. Once detected, it must immediately be treated aggressively.

8. "Take complaints seriously." A culture of civility must also be a culture of candor. An open door policy will encourage people to confide.

9. "Don't make excuses about powerful instigators." Offenders' supervisors must be role models for effective implementation of these and other suggestions, especially #1 and #7. To tolerate incivility is to condone it and then over time, to encourage it.

10. Invest in post-departure interviews. In terms of alleged incivility, there is more to be learned from former employees 45-60 days after departure than there is during an exit interview.

With regard to #3, Pearson and Porath acknowledge the difficulty of picking up on incivility during interviews. However, they do offer six recommendations:

* Up front and personal: "Let all candidates know how important mutual respect is in your organization, that you do not tolerate incivility.

* Tell me more: "Ask for specific examples of their past behaviors when you interview candidates. Get them to support their appealing descriptions of civil behavior with past actions that they actually took."

* Unique perspectives: "Talk to people at lower levels who have worked with the candidate (think `kiss up, kick down.')"

* Better now than later: "Use a team approach. If someone on the recruiting team [and there should be several involved in the process] gets bad vibes, pursue it. Time invested could save you a sour hire."

* Trust but verify: "Check references. Check references. Check references."

Note: Here's an opportunity to check out the examples of civil behavior that the candidate cited.

* Drill down: "If you spot a problem [or suspect one], keep searching."

"Approach each candidate with measured cynicism. Tap internal networks that you and your colleagues have worked so hard to build. Use those contacts to get a full profile of the candidate - across levels, across divisions, across functions." These are only two of several clusters of specific suggestions that are inserted throughout the narrative.

Pearson and Porath are hardcore pragmatists who seem almost wholly preoccupied with knowing and then sharing what they have learned about what works, what doesn't, and why. Specifically, how to reduce incivility's measurable costs such as job stress: $300-billion a year incurred by U.S. corporations, much of the result of workplace incivility. They are also idealists in that they remain convinced that a workplace need not be the toxic waste area. Recent Gallup research indicates that only 29% of the U.S. workforce is positively engaged (i.e. loyal, enthusiastic, and productive) whereas 55% is passively disengaged. That is, they are going through the motions, doing only what they must, "mailing it in," coasting, etc. What about the other 16%? They are "actively disengaged" in that they are doing whatever they can to undermine their employer's efforts to succeed. Is it any wonder that, in the United States, 80% of the people surveyed believe that incivility is a problem? Moreover, 96% have experienced it at work, 80% believe they get no respect there, and 75% are dissatisfied with the way uncivil behavior is handled.

The total cost of incivility can only be estimated but its toxic impact and consequent waste are certain. Credit Christine Pearson and Christine Porath with providing in this book a comprehensive, cohesive, and cost-effective plan to respond before additional damage is done. Theirs is a brilliant achievement. Bravo!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you exhibit Bad Behavior? Oct. 29 2009
By Lori Bartels - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When I first picked up The Cost of Bad Behavior I thought thank goodness I have never worked in an environment in which incivility was tolerated or accepted. As I read further I quickly realized that many of the environments in which I have worked have been full of incivility.

Incivility is easy to recognize when we see it played out in the political arena - remember the response after the joint session of congress when Senator Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted to President Obama "You lie!"? In his apology Wilson stated "...I extend sincere apologies to the President for this lack of civility..."

We see bad behavior play out in other public domains - how about the bad behavior of Kanye West during the 2009 MTV awards when he jumped on stage during Taylor Swift's acceptance speech and declared that Beyonce should have received the award? Unfortunately his apology didn't seem to acknowledge his own lack of civility.

In both of these instances there was public outcry about the behavior that was exhibited. But how many times do we witness or experience (or perpetrate?) incivility in the workplace when there is no public to cry out for an apology and demand a change in behavior? How many times do we experience bad behavior and don't even recognize it as such?

Pearson and Porath provide much evidence that bad behavior is indeed alive and well in organizations. They take us through the history of incivility and build the case that incivility is pervasive and increasing in frequency. In addition to a concise definition ("incivility is the exchange of seemingly inconsequential inconsiderate words and deeds that violate conventional norms of workplace conduct") the authors provide an extensive list of examples of workplace incivility. Get ready to recognize some of these behaviors - they're not as uncommon as you may think!

The authors also present a discussion on the costs of bad behavior. Costs of bad behavior include decreased individual/team performance, stress/burnout, turnover, and damage to the reputation of the organization. However, the most compelling information is the case study of a Fortune 100 company that calculated the dollar costs of incivility (examples of cost worksheets are included).

In an environment in which organizations are paying greater attention to the return on their investments, it would behoove leaders to pay attention to, and measure, the costs of organizational cultures that tolerate, and at times, promote bad behavior. This research is a great first step in guiding those who are interested in creating and maintaining healthy successful organizations. The research could not be more timely!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rude Awakening Aug. 8 2009
By K. Porterfield - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Clear and compelling--this book sets forth the costs that we all pay for tolerating bad behavior where we work. Using their exhaustive research and a wealth of real-life stories, Pearson and Porath define what workplace incivility is, how subtle it can be, and how costly it is to the organization, to the people involved, and even to bystanders. The authors make it very clear that the price tag is large and quantifiable. In their final chapters, they explore ways of recognizing and responding to the signs of incivility, but they don't pretend that the fix is easy. They offer no pat answers.

Pearson and Porath draw many of their examples from the corporate world, but this is not just a problem in the private sector. I have worked for nearly 30 years in school systems large and small and can attest to the fact that incivility looms large in the public sector too. This book should be on the desk of all education leaders, as well as their business counterparts.

The book is well written and very readable. At the end of each chapter, Pearson and Porath include a chapter summary they call Rude Awakenings. A broader discussion of this often hidden issue might be an awakening for many leaders. This book offers the platform for that discussion.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars expert approach to a very important issue Oct. 26 2009
By O. K. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
You can't overestimate the importance of civility in the workplace, especially on the part of management. A recent survey [...] found "bad boss behavior" to be growing in recent years. Toxicity in the workplace can poison all aspects of life and even cause long-term health damage. I'm glad to see more and more books and articles that address this issue. Here is another good book [Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job] that gives advice to employees on how to handle a boss who' behaving like a spoiled brat. It also holds up a mirror to office tyrants who need to realize that their behavior is hurting their companies. Kudos to the authors!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye Opening May 25 2012
By Andy G - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A bad apple in your company who habitually treats colleagues with lack of respect costs the company untold dollars in direct and indirect costs. This is explained in a clear and concise manner in this excellent book. The authors identify essential and specific actions companies must take to reduce these malignant activities. Good stuff!
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