When I’m working with a new client and making a case for modeling respectful behavior in the workplace, there is an inevitable hurdle to clear first: acknowledging there is a problem, so leaders stop passing the buck on accountability. If I’ve heard this complaint once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. Every time I show managers and leaders the data that clearly demonstrates our workplaces are becoming increasingly disrespectful, someone starts to complain, saying “Aren’t employees just too sensitive these days? Managers and supervisors are always having to walk on eggshells.”
I’ll admit, I find this question challenging, because not too long ago, people could say and do all sorts of disrespectful things to each other and it wasn’t considered a big deal by leadership. Targets of disrespectful behavior either had to suck it up or find another job. Besides, as the old saying goes: “Business is tough. If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
How Disrespectful Behavior at Work Affects the Bottom Line | Thing of it is, these days, people are leaving the kitchen, in droves. Research consistently shows that organizations with higher incidences of disrespectful behavior have higher turnover rates, absenteeism, presenteeism (showing up and hardly working), complaints, and lower productivity, performance, loyalty, engagement, and resilience. The fact is, disrespectful behavior, even if considered “no big deal” by managers, has a big negative impact on the bottom line.
Yes, there’s no doubt our workplaces have changed in the last 15-20 years, and, yes, a valid argument can be made that our employees have become more sensitive to disrespectful behavior. But, the reality is, we’re never going back to the days where being disrespectful was tolerated. This begs the question: whose job is it to adjust to this new reality, the employees or their managers and supervisors? As far as I’m concerned, the people who get paid to manage and supervise are the ones who should be doing the adjusting.
Leaders Set the Benchmark on Respectful Behavior | If you’re a boss, then finding out what works, or doesn’t, with your employees is what you get paid for. In today’s workplace the old command-and-control, carrot-and-stick management styles simply don’t work anymore because they’re considered disrespectful by most employees regardless of age.
After more than 25 years serving global companies, our experience has found that Respectful Leadership is a consistently effective management style that has a measurable, positive impact on retention, engagement, performance, productivity, partnership, and profits. These are the things that matter most to folks in the C-Suite.
Treating others with respect is a simple practice that doesn’t require walking around on eggshells. All it takes is an acknowledgment that the world of work has changed, and that modeling respectful behavior and rebuilding respect where it’s been lost is the leader’s responsibility.
For more on respectful leadership, please watch my new video: https://vimeo.com/257456882