Today, many organizations’ #1 concern is their employees. Their fears range from losing the best employees to their competition to fearing PR nightmares involving their employees that could cost the organization millions of dollars. Remember the Starbuck’s employee calling the police on a person whom was quietly waiting for someone? How many sexual harassment cases have you seen in the headlines in the past year?
The problem is not employees. The problem is the number of organizations who built their foundations missing the key ingredient every employee needs and is seeking.
A 2014 study by the Harvard Business Review revealed the #1 influencer on employee’s health, well-being, job satisfaction, enjoyment, prioritization and focus was not recognition, appreciation or opportunities for growth. The #1 influencer was RESPECT. Sadly more than half of employees in the study said that say they do not regularly feel respected by their leaders (click here for the full article in the Harvard Business Review).
We’ve known for centuries that RESPECT is vitally important and yet the far majority of organizations have failed to prioritize it. No leader can afford to make that mistake going forward. The consequences are too damaging for both the organization and their people. Leaders must be proactive in urgently work to remold their foundation to being founded on respect.
For too long, organizations were built on words like productivity, profits, efficiency, teamwork, and family. Now you might be thinking, “But teamwork and family is synonymous with Respect.” However, we all know of families who are not built on a culture of respect. We all know of teams who are not operating in a culture of respect.
So what can we do? Start with the foundation an organization currently has and take specific steps to strengthen its roots by making respect the priority.
The Keys to Creating a Culture of Respect:
- Understand what a Culture of Respect looks like, feels like, and sounds like.
- Identify where and when degradation or any lack of respect is taking place (including identifying our own behaviors that could be contributing).
- Discover specific skills that empower each person to step up and intervene with confidence and compassion for all people involved.
- Take precise steps every day to further deepen the foundation of respect in every interaction we have – from emails to texts to actual conversation.
The BIGGEST Mistake Caring Leaders Make:
A common mistake organizations make is thinking, “We have an awesome team and so we can do all of this internally.” The problem is each person on your team likely has biases they are unaware of – both about the organization and the people. No one can see what they are blind to.
Our Image vs Reality
From working with the smallest to the largest institutions, I have repeatedly seen caring, passionate leaders who were not aware of what was truly happening at certain levels of their organization.
Once when I was brought in to talk with leadership at the Pentagon to help our military with their culture, we were talking about the harmful and sexually degrading language that still exists within the ranks (as it does in many organizations). The General in charge asked me if I was sure such harmful language was still being used. Why was the General asking? The General shared that the troops were not talking this way when the General was present. So at that moment we turned to the rest of the team for their input. Everyone confirmed sexually degrading language was definitely still happening.
Is this a surprise that this brilliant, successful, caring General didn’t know? Not necessarily. Team members and colleagues know whom they can get away with making certain comments around and who they can’t get away with doing that. That phenomenon is true is most organizations.
People in an organization commonly act different depending on who is present at the time. Consequently, leadership often sees a different version of their culture than is the everyday reality.
The “how we talk is based on who is present” phenomenon is eliminated when you truly have a Culture of Respect throughout your organization. Imagine transforming your organization so that everyone talks with respect to each other no matter who is present: leadership, colleagues, clients, vendors, and even family.
When you accomplish this transformation in your organization, individuals and departments gain more freedom of expression, more creativity, stronger problem-solving, new growth, and a truly loving, supportive atmosphere. The results? Everyone is achieving their goals while also building an organization where the greatest talent always wants to stay and top talent is constantly at your door step wanting to join your team.
What is the harm in waiting to see if a problem arises? Once harm occurs, you cannot reverse it. Never. You can only react to. You can’t reverse it. Creating a Culture of Respect helps insure the harm never happens in the first place – while also building a stronger, better organization for the long run. Working in a Culture of Respect is what your organization and everyone one of your team members deserve.
How do you get started?
Team up with a leading expert who can help you create a short-term and long-term plan. Next, kickoff the plan with a live program that ignites everyone in your organization and gives each person the specific skills necessary to put the plan into action today. Last, continually check-in on the plan to insure a Culture of Respect is the norm throughout your organization!