R-E-S-P-E-C-T I know this is the way it is spelled in the lyrics of Aretha Franklin’s song, but I did it this way today because I want to emphasize the importance of respect in business when it comes to change in the ways people work, in the culture, and in day-to-day interactions.
How many of you have been in meetings where the attendees talk (sometimes yell) over each other, trying to make a point when they should be listening and showing respect for the person who is speaking or presenting? This is not only a challenge in business, we se it everyday in the news where opposing views are shouted at each other with little to no respect for the other person or people on the panel. This lack of respect has been growing over the years and benefits no one. When in a business situation, not a reality show looking for ratings based on controversy, respect is key in moving an organization forward. Leaders need to show respect their employees and employees need to show respect for leadership.
There have been many instances in my career, when a discussion is taking place about a business situation. Ideas are solicited and when these ideas are presented, others in the interrupt trying to inject their views or shoot down what is being said. In some cases, a manager may criticize the idea and person in this public forum. The result is one where employees feel the work environment is one of closed communication, there is a decreased in employee interest to get involved, and a sense no matter what the idea is, management won’t listen or take it seriously. All of this because respect has fallen by the wayside.
In My View
In this time when digital transformation is the business mantra, change management is essential. Not just technology but change in the culture and the way businesses interact with each other and with external parties. Resistance to change is normal, but when handled properly and with respect for each other’s views and ideas, the transition happens much more smoothly. Keeping this in mind, I want to share my view of respect.
Realize that everyone’s view is different based on where they are in an organization and their role in getting the job done. A front-line worker will see thing differently than the manager or senior management.
Expect differing views to arise during the conversation, and take time to listen as it is important to understand the entire point of view else you may miss something of importance that could come back to haunt you later in the project.
Show respect for the person talking, by truly listening and taking notes that can be used in questioning once this person has finished. While you, and other participants in this session may be inclined to jump in and offer your views, it is best to note those things for later discussion as often your question will be answered prior to you asking.
Provide a safe environment for discussion by facilitating the session and controlling outbursts rather than ignoring them which is encouragement for this type of behavior. The least productive meetings are those where everyone is talking, no one is listening, and collaboration to reach an end goal falls into chaos with no conclusion.
Elicit more detail from the session participants about discussion points that seem contradicting or unclear. For example, if there is a discussion that the process takes too long, try to get a better definition of “too long” and look for a perceived cause.
Clearly and openly communicate the reasons for the session, pending changes, and expected results of both the meeting and pending initiative for the organization as a whole. Address future actions that need to be taken and set timelines for completion.
Take time to recognize all participants and thank them for their input and involvement. Teach by example that respect shown results in respect given and that when respect is present in business, great things can happen.
Conflicting or opposing views are essential to innovation and new ideas. Respect is needed in creating an environment that openly welcomes innovation from all levels.
Bob Larrivee is President and Founder of Bob Larrivee Consultancy, a recognized expert in the application of advanced technologies and process improvement, and Journalist on Information Technology for Document Strategy. In his career, Bob has led many projects and authored hundreds of eBooks, Industry Reports, Blogs, Articles, and Infographics. In addition, he has served as host and guest Subject Matter Expert on a wide variety of Webinars, Podcasts, Virtual Events, and lectured at in-person seminars and conferences around the globe.