Ask the average business owner to list the top 10 components that contribute to a company’s profitability, and chances are good that the words “mutual respect” wouldn’t make the cut. But they should, because a business that places a priority on mutual respect is likely to see bottom-line benefits in the form of increased employee loyalty, productivity, and a fundamental desire to help the organization succeed. Feel free to share this information with your clients.
Even better, fostering a respectful workplace is free!
10 Steps toward Achieving Mutual Respect
While these suggestions are directed toward employers/managers, their implementation should result in forging a two-way street of mutual respect.
- Walk the walk – If employees are expected to reflect a company’s stated values, as well as adhere to its code of conduct, then those in charge had better do the same.
- Nurture ownership – Employees who aren’t emotionally invested in an enterprise and who simply view their job as a necessary evil, will likely not be motivated to help the business meet or exceed its goals. Achieving that level of motivation requires nurturing a sense of ownership in the organization, which is accomplished by regularly interacting with employees, truly listening to their concerns, and actively seeking their ideas for improvement.
- Facilitate growth – Helping employees realize their full potential will reap rewards not only in the form of mutual respect, but also in the form of a more skilled workforce. Investing in skill-set expansion thus makes sound business sense.
- Create a team mentality – Business downfalls often can be traced to infighting – either within individual departments or between different departments. To prevent this type of destructive environment taking hold, business owners/managers should work to create a climate in which companywide energy is focused on surpassing the competition.
- Share in any sacrifice – If economic circumstances dictate business belt-tightening, it’s important that equivalent sacrifices be made at every level of the organization.
- Applaud good work – Recognizing employees’ earnest efforts – whether by simply saying “good job” or writing a note of appreciation – goes a long way toward building mutual respect.
- Be an active listener – When having a conversation with an employee, make a concerted effort to truly have a conversation; meaning, no interrupting and don’t respond until you have fully processed what has been said. And, to avoid a miscommunication, ask for clarification if needed.
- Follow the golden rule – While it may be an elementary-school lesson – treat others in the same way you’d like to be treated – it’s a rule that can leave in its wake mutual respect. Make it a practice to be polite, caring, responsive, and appreciative.
- Be accountable – Garnering respect in the workplace is directly tied to one’s degree of accountability. Be honest with everyone at every level of the organization. If you’ve made a mistake, admit it. If your actions have negatively impacted someone, apologize sincerely.
- Set a higher bar – If business owners/managers expect their employees to consistently demonstrate a solid work ethic, then they’d better demand even more of themselves. It’s not sufficient to simply check off items on your to-do list. Setting a higher bar – one that will inspire respect – entails being proactive, innovative, and genuinely supportive of individuals at every level of the organization.