Four Principles for Groups to Build on the Positive

There are good reasons to improve collegiality.

An environment of civility and respect is a thing of value in itself. It also provides a vital resource for workplace health and productivity. When present, it brings happiness and fulfillment. Its absence drives people away. For businesses that depend upon attracting and inspiring high quality personnel, a civil, respectful work culture provides an essential infrastructure.

Although strict, zero-tolerance policies are understandable and perhaps effective to combat abusive or violent behavior at work, these policies in themselves are not sufficient to inspire collegiality. Instead, positive expressions of camaraderie and respect come from the heart. A genuine and convincing expression of respect arises from within an appreciation of the quality and potential of another person.

Effective change processes include shared processes for building on the positive.

  1. They struggle with the Issues. Members of the workgroup attend regular sessions at which they talk through their experiences of one another at work. They don’t have a script. They have to struggle with the issues confronting the group and create a shared response.
  2. They share action plans for change. Group members identify actions that would improve their working relationships. It’s not a feeling or a good intention, but a step-by-step protocol.
  3. They are accountable for making an effort. Group members put the plan into action over the following week. They practice the protocol in their day-to-day exchanges. At the following meeting, they share their experiences, being accountable to one another for making an effort. On the basis of their experience, they refine the plan.
  4. Everyone Wins. Everyone is being altruistic, helping their colleagues. They are also being self-centered in helping themselves. The combination is both uplifting and sustainable.

These four principles keep the process building towards a more positive, supportive worklife.


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