Respect: a renewable resource

It is a truth universally acknowledged that respectful behaviour has beneficial effects within organisations; in practice, however, it’s sometimes difficult to make it the norm. All members of the personnel, whatever their hierarchical level or status, expect to be treated with respect in all aspects of life, and particularly when it comes to their work. It’s no secret that employees who work in a respectful environment are more cheerful, loyal, successful, cooperative and creative than those who have to deal with rudeness or bullying all day.

What makes an organisation respectful? In a respectful organisation, all supervisors, from the Director-General down, respect their employees, whom they see as essential contributors to the company’s success, rather than as a cost. Managers know it’s in their interest to develop their team members’ skills and offer them new opportunities. When they talk about them outside the organisation, they emphasise their skills, commitment and professionalism. When it comes from the very top of the hierarchy, a culture of respect filters down through the whole organisation. 

“Once, when I was in a meeting with some users and my group leader, she let me take the floor without interrupting. It showed that she respected me and trusted me to sort out the problem we were facing. In our group, everyone’s treated with respect: we recognise each other’s merits and listen to each other.”

How is a culture of respect created?

As is so often the case, there’s no need for grand theories or corporate policies to create a respectful environment. The most important thing is that the example comes from the top. The imitation effect, well known in the world of work, will do the rest. General respect is, first and foremost, a question of behaviour and awareness on a daily basis. It starts with welcoming your colleagues with a greeting in the morning. Team leaders can delegate certain important tasks, make themselves available to their team, keep a keen eye on their progress and speak positively about them in public. Good work is acknowledged during regular meetings between the supervisor and the members of his or her team, on both a formal and an informal basis. The most important thing is to be honest at all times: false compliments are quickly detected and undermine people’s confidence. Sincere, indisputable respect is the driving force behind real motivation!

The good news is that respect is a renewable resource: there’s no need to take it away from one person to give it to someone else!

Pierre Gildemyn


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