Respect in the workplace has become a central and critical issue for many organizations. Gone are the days where an employer can have confidence that good manners, appropriate public behavior and respect for others were assumed employee traits. The explosion of diversity in the workplace and varying cultural norms may complicate the dynamics of any company. Many organizations have policies in place to mandate respect in the workplace, which are critical and essential for protection against potential claims and litigation.
Keep in mind that policies only set the guidelines. If leaders truly want to have a respectful workforce, four essential elements must be continuously communicated, encouraged and promoted:
- The leaders must make respect a core value of the organization. Values are often included in organizational mission statements and if they are, respect should be a top priority.
- The leaders must also model their company’s core values everyday in every interaction and communication. For example, in the presence of another employee, make it an effort to acknowledge them, no matter how busy your schedule may be. If you are in the position of discharging an employee, do it sincerely. It is possible to address an employee’s issues while also acknowledging their valuable traits and wishing them well in their new undertakings.
- Help educate the workforce. Sadly, most employees have had limited training on how to address diversity or disagreements within the workplace. This is where leadership steps in. Communications training, respect-in-the-workplace, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), off-site facilitated retreats and DiSC training are all excellent training programs that help our teams understand and demonstrate respect for colleagues (many in an experiential learning environment).
- The last critical element for building respect in the workforce is to correct lapses every time they occur. For example, if you hear a fellow colleague use a phrase that sounds offensive, explain to him (or her) how to communicate the message in a more positive way.
Respect in the workplace is key for a unified, productive organization. Make it known to everyone that living the core values of the organization is fundamental to the culture of the organization and essential for organizational and personal success.
Authored by: Mac McGinty – Vice President, Community College Workforce Alliance
This editorial appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch: July 30, 2015
Mac McGinty, vice president of Community College Workforce Alliance, has been providing workforce services for Virginia’s Community Colleges for 20 years.
Knowing that the training of workforce is crucial to productivity, job satisfaction, and profitability and that well-focused development provides a positive return-on-investment, he is heavily involved in numerous community, regional and statewide workforce development efforts.