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Managing with kindness, civility and respect

It’s a team effort!

As a manager, your job is to get your team to perform effectively and to meet their objectives. Many NHS and Social care environments are normally stressful but will now be heightened by Covid-19 pressures. 

Taking time with your team to talk about what it means to be kind, civil and respectful is a good place to start. It helps to set boundaries so everyone knows that if there are moments of rudeness or unkindness, they recognised and apologies are made – even if this is later on or even the next day. This is not an excuse for incivility or disrespect, it simply acknowledges that sometimes we all get it wrong and that no one is perfect. At times of heightened stress, using a ten-minute‘ pause space’ can help you and your team find space to re-set, recharge and re-commit.

Incivility is different for each of us. Some don’t like to hear bad language, some don’t like shouting. In general terms, incivility is belittling behaviour, being treated rudely or disrespectfully. It can also be gossiping, being ridiculed or excluded or being subjected to jokes or teasing that go too far. There is no complete checklist, so it’s important to ask yourself: how would I expect to be treated or spoken? And to ask others: what’s important to you in the way others treat you?

Managing with kindness is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Yes, it’s about showing kindness to all staff, but also understanding each member of your team as to which communication style they like and what works for them. Sometimes you may need to be assertive, particularly now under Covid-19, but that’s not the same as letting the pressure deteriorate and stop you from being a kind, professional manager. If you do get it wrong – verbally or non-verbally, remember to say sorry.

Apart from the behaviours associated with incivility, look for signs of irritability, anger, upset, jumpiness, numbness or lack of concentration amongst your team. Instances of incivility effect people in different ways. Some people get angry whilst others go quiet. Know your team and look for changes.

Civil workplaces provide better job satisfaction and improved mental health. Staff absences are lower and there is less burnout and stress. Civility also builds trust in managers and improves patient satisfaction and outcomes. It is clear – civility works. Next in this guide, we look at specific skills to help manage incivility.

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