Create an environment where everyone feels respected
Everybody wants to feel respected. For employees, feeling respected by their superiors is crucially important. In spite of this, it is very common for employees to report feeling disrespected at work. The problem is that people who feel well respected at work - that is, managers and other high-status workers - take it for granted and are not aware that some lower-status employees may not feel the same way. Not only so, but many leaders don't fully understand what workplace respect really is: when this is the case, even if they are willing to improve the situation, they will not be able to do so.
Harvard Business Review's Kristie Rogers analyzes respect in working environments. Workers who feel respected by their superiors have more loyalty towards them and the company, and perform better. Here is how to achieve this crucial goal in your workplace:
Set a strict basic standard of owed respect
Owed respect refers to the universal need to feel included. When there is a basic standard of owed respect, there is an accepted level of cordiality in the group and everyone is valued as an individual. In some cases, low-level employees feel that they don't even belong to the company, as they rarely receive any praise or recognition. They are treated more like robots than humans. Employees should feel that they are valuable to the company and not just an interchangeable piece.
Know how to transmit a feeling of respect
As a leader, it is important to not view any questions as stupid. Listen to your employees when they talk and value their input. This is a way of conveying owed respect. In addition, a leader can transmit respect by delegating important tasks, asking his or her employees for their feedback, letting them come up with their own ideas and propositions, asking them about their personal lives, as well as supporting them when they face criticism. It is also important to adapt to your company's circumstances and characteristics, as people's needs and habits play an important role.
Acknowledge that respect is contagious
Leaders tend to set the tone for everyone, and their behaviour can influence the behaviour of the entire company, be it in a positive or in a negative way. If leaders respect their employees, these, in turn, will be more likely to respect their customers and partners.
Tailor to the situation how much earned respect you transmit
We have already covered owed respect. On the other hand, earned respect rewards certain employees who perform well, who have exceeded what is expected from them. It recognizes that each employee is different, and it is necessary to value when good work is done.
A basic standard of owed respect always has to be provided. But earned respect can be more variable. A certain situation may need more emphasis on owed respect while another may need more earned respect: owed respect favors collaboration and team-building, while earned respect favors individual efforts.
It is important to point out that insincere compliments should always be avoided, as employees will recognize the insincerity and the result will be a negative one. Honesty itself is a big sign of respect.