Last week, we shared the article “Why is Respect So Important in the Workplace?” We’ve talked here before about the role of clear communication when it comes to showing and building respect in the workplace, and one quote I keep coming back to is from Glen Llopis in the Forbes article “6 Ways Successful Teams are Buit to Last.” Llopis is discussing the importance of teambuilding, and writes:
“Being genuine in your recognition and respect goes a long way towards building loyalty and trust.”
The key word here for me is “genuine.” It’s not enough to just show respect—you actually need to have respect for your employees and coworkers. Respect isn’t some ritual that we perform. It’s a mutual appreciation of one another’s value and intrinsic worth.
Respect is the baseline.
Respect also shouldn’t be something that needs to be earned: “Do this, don’t do that, perform well, and then I will respect you.” Instead, respect is the default. The starting point. While it may be possible to lose respect for someone (okay, it definitely is possible) or to gain even more respect for them, the baseline should be a basic respect for others. Everything else goes from there.
This understanding of respect has deep roots. It’s what Immanuel Kant was talking about when he wrote:
“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.”
When we treat other people as “ends-unto-themselves,” as Kant suggests, it means that we remember that they are not mere tools (means) for us to meet our own goals, or obstacles in the way of achieving those goals. We at once recognize their common humanity and unique individuality, and the fact that every person has his or her own goals, desires, fears, and hopes.
Respect isn’t pizza parties; it’s clear communication.
As a manager, you don’t get the most out of employees by throwing the occasional pizza party or having a “Worker Appreciation Day”. You help your employees reach their full potential—to the benefit of your business as as whole—by asking “what does this person want?” Once you know that, you can make sure that everyone’s goals are aligned as closely as possible, so that the whole team is pulling in the same direction.
Clear communication is crucial when it comes to this sort of genuine respect. When we communicate clearly, we are sending the message that we value one another’s time and energy, and that we don’t want to be responsible for wasting either.
Respect creates respect.
In the workplace, this sort of mutual respect is self-reinforcing. When people feel respected, they are less likely to feel threatened and think defensively, and more likely to work collaboratively and, in turn, treat others with respect.
As the manager, you set the tone, creating an environment conducive to mutual respect. Communicating clearly is essential in creating this tone. And like so much in the workplace, as the manager, it starts with you.