Do you treat your colleagues with respect?

One of the most interesting things about being a consultant is that I have the opportunity to see a wide variety of people and cultures first-hand. I see what motivates people and what doesn't; I hear about what people really want from their companies and what organizations want in return. I also get a close-up look at what causes poor morale, turnover and dissatisfaction. And when one common theme keeps reappearing nearly everywhere I go, I take notice. 

Let's see if you can guess one of the things I hear about most often. How would you answer this question, "In your organization, how do you want to be treated?" Would you say, "With respect"? I suspect that it would be one of your first responses, because it's a hot topic these days.  And although everyone seems to want it, why is there such a lack of it in so many organizations? 

Organizations reflect the basic beliefs of the people in them. And like so many things, it starts at the top. Inevitably, senior managers' behavior trickles down and seeps into the core of the culture.  However, whether you are a manager or not, each person can contribute to a healthier work environment. Why not examine your own beliefs and ask yourself "How do I treat people?" 

  • Do you believe that every person deserves to be treated with respect, regardless of level or status? 

Do you think that your assistant or co-workers deserve the same time and attention when they ask you a question as you give to your customers? Or, is it your belief that they are less important and therefore not as deserving of your time or interest? 

  • Do you believe that business strategy and financial information should be shared with all employees? 

Do you think that employees need the information to better understand how the business works and how their contribution fits in? Or, are you of the opinion that this high level information is really over the heads of the masses and that you shouldn't have to waste your time trying to educate them because they wouldn't get it anyway. 

  • Do you ask for input and really listen to it? 

Do you think it's important to solicit input from employees at all levels when a decision will have an impact on them? Or, would you rather make decisions for them, since you have a broader view and know more than they do. 

  • Do you give honest feedback to employees? 

Do you step in quickly and let someone know when they’re getting off track or doing something that is hurting their career, even when that feedback is difficult to say?  Or, would you rather just let them figure it out, even if it means they fail, because you feel uncomfortable telling them the bad news? 

  • Do you look down at certain groups of people and feel that you are superior? 

Do you encourage diversity of people, ideas and opinions? Or, do you only seek out those who are like you, and put down or ignore anyone who looks, acts or sounds different than you do?

  • Do you speak with the same tone and use the same body language with all of your co-workers, regardless of what position they hold? 

If you saw a video of yourself talking to the president of your company and then saw another tape of a typical conversation with a clerk in the front office or the janitor, would your demeanor be the same? Or, would you see a smiling, gracious, considerate person in the first scenario and an arrogant or abrupt person in the second? 

If you agreed with the first sentence in each of the descriptions, you are probably treating your fellow workers with respect and dignity. If enough people in your organization feel the same way, chances are your organization is a good place to work. Seems like common sense doesn't it? Too bad common sense isn't very common.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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