Ask people how respect is achieved and many will suggest that it is earned. One thing to remember about respect is that much like success, the definition of it varies. What about you, are you earning respect?
As a business consultant I stumble upon some very interesting things from time-to-time.
About eight years ago I was on assignment working with a mid-sized manufacturing firm helping approximately thirty mid-level managers improve their leadership skills. The training project consisted of five different sessions spread across several months.
Before the work began I was cautioned about a baby boomer manager who was a great employee but known to be too tough. The turnover ratio in his area of oversight was much higher when compared with other managers. My warning was that he might get “tough” during the course of the seminars.
I like a challenge and was ready to embrace it. He was easy to pick out. He sat near the front of the group, but close to the aisle. His arms folded across his chest and a scowl look on his face. He appeared engaged but didn’t really participate or ask questions, at least not at first.
During our second session I was presenting some material on workplace motivation and respect. At one point I said, “In today’s workplace you can’t just ask people to drop and give you twenty.” This of course meant to do twenty push-ups.
Then he spoke, “Exactly how are we supposed to motivate these people then. Tell us, how do we do it?” I was surprised but delighted he spoke up.
My first reaction was to say, “You need to approach them differently. You need to think about motivation differently.”
His response, gruff and perhaps slightly sarcastic, “Well, that sounds good, but how do we do that?”
I thought for a moment, and then said, “What if they get all of their work accomplished according to their goal, then you drop and give them twenty?” Many of his colleagues broke out in laughter and added comments like, “Yeah, how about that! You give them twenty!”
Push or Pull
Here is the greatest part of the story. Not only did we discover new respect for each other, he also understood that respect often is not able to be pushed. Respect is defined differently by each individual and it is largely earned not given. If you want to create mutual respect you are best to do it through pull.
Are you earning respect?
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.