Respect! Code of Culture, Universal Currency: You Cannot– Buy It, Sell It, Steal It, Transfer It… It Must Be Earned!

‘R’ is for RESPECT! There’s an old saying among business leaders: “Take care of your people and they will take care of you.” Business strength lies in its people… For the business to work properly there must be a bond between leaders and those being led. A bond that rests not on authority alone– but on professionalism, good will, and above all ‘mutual respect’: The chain of command must respect employees, and the employees must respect the chain of command… An easy way to think about it is; the Golden Rule treating people (e.g.; managers, co-workers, customers…) exactly the way you wish to be treated…

According to Melanie Sklarz; respect seems like simple concept; but it’s not defined the same way by everyone, and it’s certainly not practiced by everyone in the same manner, either… people often describe ‘respect’ in terms of how they feel, rather than how they are treated… So, What is respect? For some, respect is positive feeling of admiration or deference for a person or entity, e.g.; culture, or religion, or race… For others, respect can be a specific feeling for the actual qualities that a person possesses, e.g.; “You have great respect for their judgment”… Respect can be both given and received; and you know when you have it, and you know when you don’t…

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According to Christine Porath and Tony Schwartz; for leaders to get desired commitment and engagement from– managers, employees, customers… they must show: Respect! In fact, no other leader’s behavior has more effect on people then being treated with respect. Leaders must keep in mind that respect is different, for different people; it’s all in the eyes of the beholder, and respect is directly tied to how the leader makes that person feel… It’s important to understand that behavioral norms vary by– culture, generation, gender… as well as, industry and organization…

Research shows that people are less likely to buy from a company when an employee or manager is perceived to lack respect, whether it’s directed at them or at other employees. Witnessing just one short negative interaction can lead customers to generalize about other employees, the organization, and even the brand… So, what are leaders supposed to do? First and foremost, they must promote a culture of respect in their organization…

In the article Is Lack of Respect Holding Your Business Back? by Kuljit Kaur writes: Over 50% of employees aren’t regularly shown respect from their managers, according to a survey by Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath with the Harvard Business Review; the survey based on a study of nearly 20,000 employees around the world; found that when managers and leaders treat employees with respect they are more engaged: Yet it found that when 54% did not get ‘respect’ their behavior was less engaged, less focused, less productive, and less likely to contribute to business performance…

However, when employees were respected by their managers and leaders they reported better health and well-being, more trust and safety, greater enjoyment and satisfaction with their jobs, greater focus and prioritization, more meaning and significance, more employee loyalty… What is interesting is that the survey found that being treated with respect was more important to employees than having a leader communicate an inspiring vision, or other motivational factors…

Hence, lessons learned from the survey was that– when employees feel respected by their manager, and each other; when managers feel respected by their employees, and each other ; this ‘mutual respect’ encourages a healthy and harmonious workplace… It encourages an atmosphere of– collaboration, communication, co-operation… Quite simply, things get done– more quickly, more smoothly…

Hence, when workplaces have cultures that fosters respect they are –more productive, better customer service, better quality, improved profitability… Also, when employees feel respected by their manager, and vis-versa; there is less toxicity in the workplace… whereas, workplaces with cultures of disrespect become dysfunctional…

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In the article Showing Respect in the Workplace by Constance Woloschuk writes: No matter which dictionary is used, the word ‘respect,’ both as a noun and a verb, is defined and described with words, such as; ‘esteem’, ‘show high regard for’, ‘honor’… This kind of respect is demonstrated in workplaces by treating everyone with courtesy, dignity, and without prejudice or discrimination…

The familiar concept of the Golden Rule that is found in many cultures is always effective: It’s simply; “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”… Hence, whether you management or employee, everyone can help develop a culture of respect by following a few simple guidelines:

  • Management Showing Respect for Employees in the Workplace: Managers are in unique positions with the authority to make sure that the workplace is a place of respect for each employee. A common complaint of staff in many organizations, though, is that management do not respect them, or their work… Some managers simply do not know how to show respect without feeling they are losing some of their authority. These managers might want to remember that it’s their employees who actually do the work, and who can make them look good as managers…
  • Employees Showing Respect for Management in the Workplace: In some workplaces, it’s all too easy for employees as a group to disrespect managers… It just takes one strong personality type to starts complaining about the way they are being treated– abused, disrespected… then other employees join in, and over time, the workplace becomes– toxic, unhealthy, unproductive…
  • Formalizing Respect in the Workplace: Although it can be difficult to dictate ‘respect’ in the workplace; a culture of respect can be developed through formal policies and guidelines of behavior for both managers and employees… one method is to developed clearly documented rules for appropriate and respectful behavior… and any rules must be fully enforced with consequences…

In the article Creating a Climate of Respect by Jonathan Cohen, Richard Cardillo and Terry Pickeral write: For some, the notion of ‘respect’ implies a courteous, decorous, civil, deferential attitude of being taken seriously… Acting respectfully reflects appreciative feelings for another person, group… In business, respect can sound like this statement from an employee: “They actually listen to me in this workplace; management care about what I think and feel, they want me to be part of making this business even better”…

In contrast, the absence of respect can sound like this statement from an employee: “They (i.e.; managers, co-workers…) don’t care what I think, all they care about are the results”… Respectful organizations are environments where people feel safe, supported, engaged, challenged… Respect doesn’t happen in isolation; it’s based on well-intentioned engagements…

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In the article Secret to Respect in the Workplace by Darcy Jacobsen writes: Respect has gotten much attention in the work environment lately, as it relates to– equity, fairness, and just getting along with others… In fact, most will agree that a healthy level of respect is probably the most potent ingredient for workplace civility… But respect reaches much further than manners and compliance. It also plays a key role in recognition, engagement, and in creating a strong organizational culture.

Think about it: Recognition, at its core, is really just a form of respect; people who are recognized– for doing the right things tend to rise to that recognition, and strive to be worthy of it… People who are not recognized for hard work, performance… tend to feel forgotten, unappreciated, disrespected… According to research; the top five things employees look for when seeking a new job are: stability, compensation, respect, health benefits, work-life balance… According to Brian Kropp; workplaces have changed; it’s not ‘work and keep your head down workplace’ anymore; most people are looking to be recognized, respected for individual contribution…

As workforce demographics shift and global markets emerge, workplace diversity inches closer to becoming a business necessity instead of a banner that companies wave to show their commitment to embracing differences and change… Hence, ‘respect’ for management, co-workers, customers… is important business priority; this means viewing each person as a unique contributor to the organization; it means recognizing each person on your team for their talent, ideas… which can make your organization better…

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Hence, replace the old adage: Treat others as you want to be treated”… with Treat others as they want to be treated”... Learn about the different mannerisms in your workplace– managers, co-workers, customers… and learn and listen on how they wish to treated… If you are not sure how to treat– a person, group, religion, race, culture… then just ask them, in a respectful and polite manner…

Respect/Disrespect is an interesting concept because it occurs only in the eye of the beholder– it doesn’t matter what you think or do… if a person feels disrespected it’s their reality; it’s the way they feel that really matters. Everyone (well, almost everyone) deserves to be treated with respect, but the key is to know and understand what ‘respect’ means to them…