Saturday, February 27, 2010

Respect in the Workplace--Behavior Change is Top Down

Let me take the long route to the real point of this article -- using your newsletter to help promote and generate respect among employees.

If you think that disrespect is an individual employee responsibility, you are 25% correct. The truth is that disrespect is contagious like the common cold. When one person is disresepectful persistently, and gest away with it, other employees frustrated by the behavior will soon lower their standards to cope with it in the same way. This turning to disrespectful as a solution can then become cancerous. Pretty soon, you can have your entire workplace at risk with people treating each other like crap. Why is this the case?

Disrespect is simply a modern day facet of other undesirable behaviors in the workplace such as abuse, workplace conflict, sexual harassment, racism, negativity, discrimination, anger management gone awry, and other issues all of which are part same continuum of human behavior--aggression. Aggression is a normal, necessary human capacity for defense and survival. The problem is that the behaviors just mentioned are inappropriately expressed forms of getting one's needs met in some capacity or another, especially at work.

Frankly, once you get practiced enough at it, being aggressive and inappropriate is a cheap emotional way of getting your needs met because you do not have to temper your inappropriate behavior with civility. (The behavior you learned well enough that your parents finally allowed you to come out of the playpen.) Of course, the origin of disrespect may be absent parents for many folks who never acquired these skills of respect. Any takers on that belief?

Civility is a modern day concept of self-imposed restriction on basal instincts that otherwise would predominate and completely ruin a civil society if it did not exist. It's why we have come at least this far in our evolution.

The bottom line -- respect is a organizational responsibility and one employee being disrespectful, like negativity in general, spreads like a virus among the workforce. So top management, and management employees in general, must first be training in respectful workplace behavior, and then you impart it to the rest of the workforce in that order.

Research respectful workplace issues and make them a regular part of your employee newsletter topics offerings. It will have an impact on your employees. HOWEVER---> keep your eyes open in your workplace for the type of disrespect that predominates there. It exists because all workplaces will from lack of a respectful workplace at some point. Other employees are witnessing the same thing. Then write about that type of behavior in general terms. It will be noticed and it will have an impact on your employees.

Never stop writing in your employee newsletter about disrespect, but title articles in positive terms. This is critical. For example, "How to Gain More Cooperation from Your Team" is positive. Articles with positive titles communicate a message of "enhancement" or "becoming more".

All of us naturally gravitate to things that will add to our lives and you will get more readers for your employee newsletter articles verus titling such an article "Stop Being Bossy with Your Team". Fewer people will read your employee newsletter articles because they are not hard-wired to be attracted to it and it does not appeal to self-interest as much as an article title which communicates "enhancement".

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