Some things are NOT better left unsaid

by Oct 23, 2018

When you first start at an organization, there is tons and tons of paperwork. Sometimes it feels like you are signing your life away!

From tax forms to acknowledging receipt of the employee handbook, you and the organization make a lot of explicit promises to each other.

 

Why Some things are NOT better left unsaid

For example, you make a commitment to refrain from sexually harassing a coworker, while the organization makes a commitment to investigate any sexual harassment claims that are filed.

What’s often forgotten, but probably more important, is the psychological contract both parties sign when a new hire starts.

Think for a second about that implied contract. While the new hire is signing that paperwork, they are thinking, “this employer better furnish a safe and respectful work environment free of harm, and where I can be my best self.”

On the other side of the table, the employer representative is thinking, “this employee better work hard to achieve goals, and to behave in the best interest of this company.”

If this unsaid contract is perceived to be broken the relationship between employer and employee is damaged. The employee disengages, unintentionally or intentionally reduces effort, and maybe even quits.

The employer might also take disciplinary action to try to force better performance.

For example, if the behavior of the abrasive leader in your organization is not being addressed, employees come to believe the employer is failing to uphold their side of the contract – the one that was never explicitly stated.

Something interesting about this contract is that, because it’s unsaid, it’s unstable. Perceptions about what each party owes the other is just that – a perception.

My advice – make the implicit contract explicit. Ask what employee expectations are and then write them down.

 

Recommendation

When new employees start, make sure managers sit down with them and discuss their working relationship, what they expect from the employee, and what the employee expects of them.

I recommend they put all that in a written document and sign it.

Another way employers can keep their end of the bargain is by creating a healthy workplace policy that sets expectations on how everyone should behave, rather than telling them the consequences of behaving poorly. I have a template policy here, to make it a little easier for you!

And, consistently discuss performance expectations for both parties.

By making performance conversations more collaborative and by documenting them, managers and employees can remain apprised of what the psychological contract is and what changes were made over time.

It all boils down to creating an environment where employees are comfortable expressing their concerns and their own expectations, and where leaders can do the same. The contract is then less likely to be perceived as broken, and when it is, you can have a collaborative conversation about it.

Remember, open communication is key!

Sincerely,

Catherine

P.S If you want to learn more about the explicit versus implicit promises you make as an employer, join me for a free webinar on Culture and Compliance: Why & How Both Drive Business Success, on Nov 7 at 10 am PST. I have a ton of useful nuggets for you and as always, some cool bonuses.

Registration is explicit. 🙂

Incivility, bullying, and harassment occur because the culture allows them to. Before starting inclusivity initiatives, you’ve got to stop bad behavior. Take this assessment to determine if your workplace fosters a positive culture.

 

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

3 Savvy Ways to Spend Your Budget Surplus

It’s halfway through the year, and for some companies, the fiscal year is wrapping up, leaving them with an unexpected budget surplus.  While it might be tempting to funnel these extra funds into new equipment or throw after-hours parties, there's a more strategic...

Implicit Bias Training That Works

A significant barrier to achieving a diverse and inclusive workforce is implicit bias. Implicit bias occurs when, for instance, you hear the word "engineer" and immediately assume it is a man, or hear "teacher" and assume it is a woman. Have you ever been guilty of...

Over 50% of Workers Now Value Balance and Belonging Over Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Yesterday, I came across research by Randstad and it really got me thinking about how much the workplace landscape is changing. This study included insights from 27,000 workers worldwide and what really caught my attention was that nearly half of the respondents—47%,...

Your Culture Matters as Much as Your Legal Compliance

Legal compliance serves as the bedrock of any organization. While it lays the foundation, a positive workplace culture breathes life into your organization. A strong, supportive culture fosters employee engagement, boosts morale, and enhances productivity.  This...

How We Create Respectful Work Cultures

For the past 15 years, we have been dedicated to transforming toxic workplace cultures and fostering positive environments through executive coaching, corporate training, and large-scale culture change projects. We’ve serviced over 250 clients and their thousands of...

42% of employees would QUIT over political disagreements

Is it appropriate to restrict employees from expressing their political views at work? On the one hand, you want people to feel free to express themselves. But then, you don't want those water cooler chats to turn into full-blown political showdowns. According to a...

Why Retaining Top Talent is More Difficult Than Ever

Finding and keeping great employees can be tough for companies all over. With changes in employee expectations, advancements in technology, and shifts in the job market, it's a real challenge. In 2019, a whopping 42 million U.S. workers alone said "so long" to their...

Can Your Corporate Culture Influence Workplace Violence?

Workplace violence is a serious concern for organizations worldwide. While there are many reasons why it happens, one thing that doesn't get enough attention is the company culture itself. How people act and treat each other at work can make violence more or less...

How to Utilize Culture Surveys for Cultural Change

Surveys are a wonderful resource for measuring the success of culture change. Many clients approach us with the awareness of a cultural problem…but an inability to identify the cause. And that’s where we step in, often using survey scores as an identifier.  Let’s take...

Microaggressions Can Become Part of an Organization’s Culture. Here’s Why

We're talking a lot about making sure everyone feels included and respected in the workplace. But sometimes, it's not the big, obvious stuff that makes people feel excluded and disrespected - it's the little things. We have likely all experienced situations where...