Is there still a place for good manners in today’s ruthless business world? Joining us today is Carrie Penman, the Chief Compliance Officer and Senior Vice President Advisory Services at NAVEX Global. She wrote an article entitled, The Cost of Incivility in the Workplace, and today we’re talking about why manners matter.

Why the article

So many people don’t have a good understanding of the fact that how you say something is as — or more — important than what you say. Think about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the message you have to deliver. How would you want that to be said to you?

Rude, abusive, and harassing bullying behavior has been costing organizations big time for decades in terms of decreased productivity, lost top talent, loss of innovation, lower quality customer service, and more. Many of the reports that ethics and compliance officers receive over their hotlines are related to HR matters, and can lead to serious compliance violations.

The Era of the Jerk Manager is Over

It was once accepted and expected that it was okay for the boss to be a jerk. These days, it’s become a lot less acceptable. The course of our discourse and the political environment has raised the issue for so many people and the expectations of employees have changed. Jerk behavior is so toxic to our cultures, organizations, and our ability to succeed.

Committing to corporate values

Organizations have always had a set of core values, but the key is to commit to these values for them to have credibility. Is your organization living your core values in all aspects of your work? Are they enforced at all levels, i.e. no special rules for special people?

The only way for this to work is for organizations to recognize and discipline for inappropriate behavior, because if those behaviors are accepted, it drives cynicism. Carrie shares a company’s litmus test for their values: can you hire and fire by them?

We are all accountable

Employees may legitimately have a question or complaint about an interaction or a request from a manager, but it doesn’t give anybody the right to be rude or be a jerk. It’s basic human civility. Two wrongs don’t make a right: if the boss is being a jerk, that doesn’t mean the employee gets to be a jerk, too. We need to be accountable for our own behavior.

Be present professionally and personally. It all comes down to respect.


Carrie Penman

The Cost of Incivility in the Workplace 

Top 10 Ethics & Compliance Trends for 2019 

The Era of the Jerk Manager is Over