We can’t PREVENT incivility or misbehavior in startups; it is a given. On occasion, incivility WILL happen between co-founders, investors, first-hires or team members, especially when we disagree. When our ideas are threatened during discussions and negotiations, we can become defensive, resulting in angry or uncivil behavior. We can, however, create clarity and certainty when we agree beforehand on how to tackle this behavior rather than trying to put up with or ignore it.
I could write reams of quotes on the adverse effects that incivility has on teams in organizations. Suffice it for me to say that it is significant and is still neglected in many organizations.
The solution or agreement we are proposing for startup organizations is called Civility123. Without going into too much detail here, I will give you a brief outline. It consists of 3 phases of accountability for our incivility or misbehavior.
The Civility123 Toolkit
That is, we OBJECT to misbehavior during a disagreement in 3 phases and in real-time, rather than complaining about the person later, thus nipping any potential for long-term disputes in the bud.
- Caution – A verbal warning that requires a simple acknowledgment, or escalate to…
- Object – An email/text objection that requires a simple apology or escalate to…
- Stop – Informing the offender that without an acceptable apology the dispute will be posted on the Disputz peer review network to get some feedback.
If still unresolved the offended person will post their dispute on the Disputz.com network. It would consist of all of their email correspondence between the two, also. Anyone in the organization can then offer feedback on their dispute. At this point, whoever is deemed to have misbehaved would need to POST an acceptable apology consisting of:
- What was said
- Why it was said and
- What he or she would do next time
3. Civility Live
If still unresolved the third and final phase of their dispute would be to zoom the dispute on our Civility.live video platform. Each person could nominate up to 3 team members in the organization to adjudicate their dispute. Failure to resolve the dispute at this stage without an acceptable apology from either or both would mean a vote is taken by the team members and they would recommend someone for dismissal.
Of course, all participants in the organization would need to agree to use the Civility123 toolkit beforehand, and it would apply to every member of the organization, from the Janitor to the CEO.