Crawfish Incivility: Actions Leaders Need to Reward

When people from Louisiana hear the word Crawfish (crayfish, mudbugs or crawdads), most imagine crawfish boils and mouth-watering crawfish tail recipes. Locals catch crawfish using a string and bait, trap or even by hand. Once the crawfish are captured, they’re placed in a pail. First-timers are often surprised that these pails rarely include lids. They think that without a lid, the crawfish will crawl out. While they do try, once they reach the rim, other crawfish reach up, climb on and pull them back down. None of the crawfish escape.

At times, employees act like crawfish. Rather than helping others succeed or feel included, they pull others down. For example, often without thinking about the impact, employees bring others down through their behaviors, i.e., when they:

  • Tell jokes at the expense of others
  • Withhold information and/or feedback
  • Dismiss ideas or comments from teammates
  • Fail to acknowledge or welcome new employees
  • Take credit for another person’s work
  • Ignore warning signs about safety risks for others

As leaders, it is important to notice how the culture we create influences employee engagement, inclusion and belonging. While a person might see their actions as “getting ahead,” in actuality when employees fail to cooperate, collaborate or support others, they can cause an entire team to fail. Effective leaders consider and build cultures that reward civility and desired behaviors in their employees, such as those who:

  • Take personal accountability for and admit mistakes
  • Courageously speak up when someone says something disrespectful
  • Listen to understand rather than to be heard
  • Keep confidences
  • Pitch in to help others when they have the expertise or knowledge
  • Acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments of others

Crawfish only care about their personal survival. Workplaces that encourage similar practices often experience negative results such as lower engagement, safety, and productivity scores. Leaders who notice and set expectations for how to treat others respectfully develop more civil workplaces, retain employees and build greater business success.

For more information for how to build a culture of civility, reach out to Kittie Watson.

Try a New Orleans Classic Crawfish Boil Recipe.

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