Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Taking the Good with the Bad: Measuring Civiltiy and Incivility

Academic journal article Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict

Taking the Good with the Bad: Measuring Civiltiy and Incivility

Article excerpt


Incivility in the workplace is more than bad manners or boorish behavior. It affects the bottom line of the business. Incivility is one of the factors causing stress in the workplace, and stress in the workplace costs U.S. businesses an estimated $300 billion per year (Porath and Pearson, 2012). Despite a growing body of evidence showing the impact of incivility in the workplace and its impact on morale and performance, current performance appraisal measurements typically do not measure incivil behavior. Performance management systems are designed to encourage, and thus to increase, specific behaviors which lead to completion of organizational objectives. It can be contended that these behaviors are actually behavioral norms directly embedded in the culture. The majority of organizations measure these behaviors through the use of performance appraisals. It has been noted that the ratings on performance appraisals are directly linked to both organizational reward systems and to the imposition of sanctions or acts of discipline, even to the point of failed promotion and dismissal. However, if incivil behavior is typically not measured, one must question the validity of an organization's performance appraisals.

The goal of this paper is to shed light on the types of behaviors that are being included in contemporary performance appraisals. We will examine the types of behavior, civil and incivil, being measured as part of performance management systems. The incivility construct has gained a great deal of traction. Given its high prevalence and the undesirable outcomes with which it is associated, organizations need to assess this behavior and address the problems presented by incivility. Researchers have attempted to expose the topic through outcomes, antecedents, construct parameters and distinction; however no research known to date has addressed the issue of sanctionability of incivility. This research does a review of extant performance appraisals to show that there are some concerns in the measurement of undesirable incivil behavior in organizations, as opposed to the inclusion of civil behaviors. A framework was developed upon which to analyze and review the various performance appraisals. It is the authors' belief that despite the clear organizational impact of incivil behaviors, many organizations do not include these as part of their performance appraisals. Ramifications of such an omission will be discussed, along with some exciting possibilities for future research.


There are clear benefits from managing individual performance and behavior to achieve organizational goals. Performance management processes focus on a more integrated approach to the management of employee behavior that is connected to performance that leads to organization success. Performance management can be defined as a strategic and integrated approach to delivering sustained success to organizations by improving the performance of the people who work in them and by developing the capabilities of teams and individual contributors (M. Armstrong, 2006, p. 142). The purpose of performance management can be viewed generally as a means of sustaining competitive advantage through the behavior of its people (Hartle, 1997; Weiss & Hartle, 1997). De Waal (2002) believes that the main purpose of a performance management system is to alter the behavior of people. Armstrong (2000), Brown and Armstrong (1999), Engelmann and Roesch (1997), and Newton (1998) all agree that the result of performance management is specific behavior improvement.

Performance management involves the development of processes for establishing a shared understanding of what is to be achieved in the organization, and more specifically which behaviors will increase the chances of goal accomplishment. Periodically evaluating the human resources within organizations allows individuals to have a formal assessment of their behavior and how it helps or impedes goal accomplishment. …

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