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Blog - Managing Inappropriate Behaviour - what to do to create lasting change

Managing Inappropriate Behaviour - what to do to create lasting change

Posted by Tracy Powley 13/06/19

If there is an upside to the high profile headlines about inappropriate workplace behaviour (Deloittes partners fired Lloyds of London culture) it is that organisations are at last taking this seriously. There is growing recognition that if people feel uncomfortable at work, there is a direct result on performance, let alone the ethical issues that inappropriate behaviour raises.

With that recognition is an increased impetus to do something about it. While the majority of our work is still in response to specific incidents of behaviour crossing the line, there are growing numbers of companies who want to take a preventative approach and help people understand where the lines are, before something happens.

In either case, however, one workshop or coaching session simply won’t cut it.

The sessions we tailor for clients take all sorts of forms, from interactive workshops for senior teams, to punchy “lunch and learns” and conference slots - but one thing we always advocate from the start, is that a session in isolation will not change behaviour.

Workshops are a great way to raise awareness and bring clarity to a tricky topic, but they have to be followed up in a meaningful way if there is a to be tangible change.

And there is another vital consideration; the duty of care employers have to their teams, when they run sessions on workplace behaviour. In our experience, sadly, it is rare for people to have had no experience of inappropriate behaviour at all ... either first hand or as a bystander.

Opening up discussions to share experiences and views really helps with understanding where the lines are, but it may also surface some difficult emotional stuff for people and there have to be mechanisms in place to support participants after the sessions.

Post-session activity should always be led internally, possibly supplemented with external support and guidance, but owned by managers and leaders in order to be sustainable

So how should organisations follow up?

  • At the very least there should be follow up conversations on a one to one basis between managers and team members, to ensure there is a chance for people to air views, raise concerns and to draw out learning
  • Team discussions are also a good way to think about what to implement as a result of the session - a team charter is a concrete way of helping to drive behavioural change and keeping behavioural standards visible
  • Agreeing how you will hold each other accountable to the actions; how will you “call out” behaviour that crosses the line, in an appropriate way, for example?
  • Providing skills development where needed. Often managers will need support to hold tricky conversations to address behaviour that falls short of the agreed standard
  • Appointing champions to keep the messages “live” and provide ongoing support  

These are just a handful of examples that can help to embed change.

The sessions you run might be full of nods of agreement in the moment, but without follow up, people will return to their desks and carry on as before.

For more information on how we can help you create and sustain a positive working environment and manage inappropriate behaviour  call us for a confidential discussion on 01903 732 782email or contact us 

Tracy Powley
Tracy Powley

The way we behave towards each other in the workplace has a direct impact on individual wellbeing, team performance and organisational results. This belief has underpinned our work at Focal Point for over 20 years and has never been more relevant. We are privileged to work with a huge variety of organisations wanting to get workplace behaviour and culture right - and to tackle the inappropriate behaviour that may get in the way of this. Supported by our fantastic team of facilitators and coaches, we are able to make a real difference to peoples’ lives as well as organisational performance. Having worked in both large businesses at management level and in 2 start ups at director level, I am able to combine hands on experience of growing and managing teams - and the associated challenges in creating the right culture - with over 20 years in learning and development. I hold the Certificate in Training Practice and am a member of CIPD. When I am not supporting clients or developing the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...

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