Partnering to Create a Physically & Psychologically Safe Workplace

PROBLEM: Subtle Signs of Distrust in Leadership

The HR Manager, Karleen, and Executive Director, Tom, were new at Rainbow Municipal Water District (RMWD) and quickly noticed subtle signs of a negative workplace culture. As signs of negative behavior continued to emerge, RMWD engaged Civility Partners for training on preventing workplace bullying and bystander intervention. Managers and leaders received an additional session related to managing and coaching negative behavior.

Based on feedback from the training, RMWD decided to engage with Civility Partners for a climate assessment (employee survey + interviews with a random selection of employees). Smart employers know to ask employees for feedback.

SOLUTION: Climate Assessment and an Action Plan for Change

Once we completed the survey and analyzed the results, we facilitated a series of strategic planning meetings for culture change. We gathered up a team of employees and managers, plus HR, and together we reviewed the data, brainstormed ideas for change, and solidified an action plan. In addition, Civility Partners coached select leaders on positive communication skills and led a company-wide brainstorming session so that all employees could provide input on the plans for change.

RMWD also took many strides on its own, including engaging with a leadership coach to facilitate 360 feedback and coaching for all leaders, implementing a company-wide newsletter, and revamping performance management to include monthly one-on-one’s and improved feedback loops. Of course, they also provided training and guidance to ensure this new initiative was a positive experience for all.

Using DISC to Resolve Conflict

KEYS TO SUCCESS: Transparency and Employee Involvement

RMWD’s keys to success include transparency about the survey results, communicating what RMWD was doing to make change and why, and bringing in an outside source (that’s us!) to provide the opportunity for confidential feedback. RMWD continues to focus on being as transparent as it can be with the workforce and including employees in the process of culture change.

Karleen says another key to success was Civility Partners’ process of combing through the open-ended survey responses to locate themes. Themes make the qualitative data digestible and therefore provide clear insight on opportunities for improvement.

Additionally, through Civility Partners’ coaching program RMWD demonstrated their commitment to accountability for positive behavior. Perhaps more importantly, RMWD demonstrated that they believed in their employees’ ability to make positive change and were willing to provide resources to facilitate their success.

coaching to build relationships by Civility Partners

RESULTS: Improved Survey Scores, a Safer Workplace, and Engaged Employees

The results of our second survey – conducted two years later in 2020 – showed that all of RMWD’s hard work had paid off. For example, when asked to rate the statement, “I’m inspired to do my best as often as I can when I’m at work,” we saw a 100% positive response!

Workplace safety had most certainly improved. For example, responses to the statement, “Safety is not sacrificed to get the job done” improved by 26% and confidence in safety policies improved by 16%. We also saw 10-20% improvement in questions related to work/life balance.

Beyond that, employees now felt valued, performance conversations had improved, and RMWD’s net promoter score (NPS) was up to 96%.


As Karleen puts it, “People are more than resources. They’re whole beings with feelings and backgrounds and they’re messy, but they’re more than resources, they’re more than what they can do for you. You have to show them you care about them as a person.”

View the entire 30-minute conversation with Karleen here on LinkedIn.