Respect Increases Productivity and Teamwork
by Marlene Chism
When a group of Human Resources professionals and a group of employees were asked the question, “What would increase productivity” the number one answer for both groups was ‘productivity would increase if working relationships were better.’
What is often lacking in work relationships is respect. Bosses often have poor listening skills, don’t know how to manage their stress and the result is lost trust, and low levels of loyalty. Employees fight amongst themselves, call in sick when they want a day off and lack the motivation to get the job done efficiently. One of the easiest ways to increase teamwork is to simply start showing respect, and working to earn more respect.
Modern definitions of respect include feeling or showing honor or esteem for; and a second definition is to treat with consideration. If respect were on a continuum from one to four, treating others with consideration would be at level one. At level four respect would be the combination of treating someone with respect while also feeling esteem and honor for that person. Here are four distinct examples identifying the four levels of respect that you can observe in everyday circumstances.
Level one: Behavior Level one is the behavior of respect, treating others with consideration, being polite, and using manners. A few days ago in the grocery store, an elderly gentleman with unkempt hair, weathered skin and holes in pants sauntered down the vegetable aisle and parked his cart smack dab in the middle. The young woman behind him tried to get his attention so she could move ahead but he didn’t see her nor did he hear her saying “excuse me.”
The third time she spoke, it was obvious that he was hard of hearing. She smiled at me from the other end of the aisle and I acknowledged her dilemma with a wink and a smile back.
Then the young woman lightly tapped the older man on the back and said, “Sir, I need to get through, excuse me.” The elderly man jerked as if startled and his face showed a sign of embarrassment as he let her through. This young woman was an example of respectful behavior. She didn’t roll her eyes, slam her cart around, sigh or act impatient. I’m not sure how the young woman felt about the older man but the point is this: You don’t have to like someone, know someone or even have a high regard for someone to behave respectfully toward them. This translates in the business world to working with others. There will be others who don’t perform at your capacity but you can still decide to behave respectfully toward that person. The bottom line is this: You either treat someone respectfully or you don’t.
Level 2: Respect for authority The second level of respect is a respect for authority or position. You may not like the president of the United States, but you respect the position or level of authority. You may have a boss that you view as incompetent, therefore you do not respect his or her work product, but because you respect the position and due process, you behave respectfully at work.
It’s difficult to continue to show respect for someone who does not show respect for you. If you have a boss who has poor interpersonal skills and who says things like, “I didn’t ask you to work here, find yourself another job,” you have two choices. You can act disrespectfully or you can continue to act respectfully because doing so represents you the way you want to represent yourself. When you need to disagree, or question the authority you follow due process, use tact and solve problems instead of acting out of spite. Once again, you do not have to like a person or agree with him or her to show respect. When you continue to show respect because of the level of position or authority, you are making choices based on who you are, and not on how others behave.
Level 3: Liking someone At level three, respect comes more from an emotional attachment to the person. Regardless of the person’s position or lack thereof, you simply enjoy the company of this person and like to hang out. She laughs at your jokes, remembers your birthday and is a fun gal to be around. Then again, you wouldn’t refer her to any of your close friends, or business associates. You wouldn’t get her a job application for your place of business because it would ruin your reputation. She’s always late, she’s too “out there” and she cusses like a sailor. So, while you respect her and have high esteem for her as a person, you simply can’t disrespect yourself by referring this person to your key contacts. At level four you can feel a bit splintered and confused because it’s difficult to separate “level three” respect from “level four” respect.
Level 4: Leadership At level four you admire the person’s accomplishments and you hold this person in esteem. You like and admire this person enough to refer him to your inner circle. In fact, at level four you might even be willing to follow this person because you have seen his leadership abilities. The person is accomplished. Her work product is excellent. He has great interpersonal skills, integrity and discipline. She has paid her dues and has earned the respect of peers, associates and subordinates.
When it comes to respect there are at least four different levels. The most important thing to remember is this: No matter how you feel toward someone else, and no matter how they treat you, you always have the choice to behave respectfully to all people. You don’t define other people by what you think of them. You do define yourself by how you behave. When you choose to treat others with respect you are on your way to earning respect at the highest level. An added benefit of respecting others with whom you work is the increase in productivity. A painless way to increase teamwork is to respect those you work with whether they are your co-worker, staff or supervisor.
Marlene Chism works with companies that want to stop the drama so that teamwork and productivity can thrive. To get free resources to help you increase productivity and build work relationships go to www.stopyourdrama.com or call 1. 888.434.9085 for more information.