One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou- “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. “
This is also probably the best way to describe respect at the workplace- respect is always about how we make the other person feel and it’s always best measured by the receiver.
When things are working well, respect is an employee engagement dimension that seldom comes to mind. However, in a high pressure situation for the individual or the company, how people are treated becomes stark.
Very often we have seen a manager loudly berating an employee about something they may have messed up. Or an employee making a joke that they think is funny but is directed at one of their colleagues who is embarrassed or humiliated by it. Even if we were not the person this behavior was directed at, hasn’t it disgusted us or made us feel uncomfortable? Haven’t we wished someone would do something about it but have been fearful of reporting it?
That’s exactly what a disrespectful culture creates- an atmosphere of intimidation and fear!
Any kind of disrespectful behavior at the workplace causes long term low grade stress which lies below the surface and slowly corrodes away all other aspects of what makes a team or company a great place to work. However, the issue is that we see too many cases where people (especially leaders, managers & prima donna talent) get away with behaving badly. Many times, these kinds of behaviors don’t qualify as “harassment”, and an employee raising this is tagged as “over-sensitive”. This further isolates & demotivates the employee and disengages their fellow team members.
Like “zero-tolerance” to harassment, its important for companies to start implementing “zero-tolerance” for disrespectful behavior across the organization, including their leaders.
Genius or positional power is no justification for disrespectful behavior that creates a toxic workplace!