In an earlier post on culture change, Paul Meshanko described the process of working with a team to create a Code of Cooperation. He also described how integral it is to have everyone participate and contribute their ideas to the process. The theory being that people will support what that they create, specifically in organizations.

This process has become central to the training we offer to clients. Sitting and participating in one of our workshops will only take you so far. You need to continue to practice this new behavior on a daily basis. That’s where the Code of Cooperation comes in. It serves as a customized road map to respectful behavior.

I recently led an organizational group through this process. While doing so, I noticed something I had seen while doing this exercise with other teams. This group was not unlike those previous teams. It was composed mainly of department heads with a few other staff members.  Like before, they had all gone through the full training but had difficulty coming up with and agreeing on specific behaviors they should be practicing in their workplace.

When Common Sense Isn’t Common

Time and time again, I heard, “isn’t it just ‘common sense’ to treat people right.” or “doesn’t everyone know what it means to be respectful to someone else, so why do we have to write it down?”

First of all, while we may believe common sense is universal, I’ve noticed that it is not. Your idea of common sense on the way to treat someone may be completely different than mine. Maybe common sense to you is to treat everyone the same way, but I prefer to treat them the way they want to be treated.

Get It In Writing

Secondly, getting it in writing only cements the importance of the acceptable ways we all want to be treated. It also provides a visual reminder when someone lapses and disrespects or mistreats someone else. We can point to the code and remind them what we all agreed was the proper way to treat someone.

So as useful as training is to start the process of culture change to create a more respectful workplace, developing a Code of Cooperation may be a more tangible way to see that change enacted on an ongoing and consistent basis by all employees. Putting those accepted behaviors in writing and formalizing them may make all the difference in moving forward as a respectful organization.