Practical Ways to Respect People

Posted on November 3, 2011  Comments (10)

What matters is not your stated respect for people but your revealed respect for people. Here are some ideas I collected after being prompted by a post by Ron Pereira: 7 Practical Ways to Respect People.

  • Don’t waste people’s time: have meetings only when necessary and provide agendas in advance. Use email effectively instead of presenting material in meetings that can better be presented in email. Don’t have complex benefit manuals, aimed at making lawyers happy, that employees are expected to use.
  • Do what you say you will.
  • Provide bad news early (don’t hope it will get fixed somehow so you don’t have to address it, let people know what is going on and let them help).
  • Pay people fairly – I would venture to say most senior executive pay today is inherently disrespectful, If I am wrong about the “most” part, certainly a huge amount executive pay is inherently disrespectful.
  • Put the long term success of all stakeholders as the focus (don’t risk people’s jobs for short term bonuses, don’t use large amounts of leverage risking the future of the company…). Respect all stakeholders and provide them confidence their long term success is important. Companies that find themselves laying off workers due to managements failure to succeed over the long term are not being respectful to those workers. That failure is most obvious today but the important improvement is not in handling the layoff today, it is in the behavior for years before that did not build a system that was successful in the long term.
  • Tell people what they can do to improve. It is respectful to help people improve. It is treating people like a child that needs to be shielding from any hint of weakness in need of improvement.
  • Don’t expect a few people to do far more than their fair share of work because management allows poor performance to continue un-addressed.
  • Assist people when they need help.
  • Provide encouragement when people try new things. Support risk taking. Support and build upon their natural intrinsic motivation.
  • Provide the right tools to do the job (don’t expect people to work with and overcome: outdated machines, poor software applications, or bad management systems).
  • Don’t Treat People How You Want to be Treated. One specific example: let work that requires complex thinking protection from interruption (even if your work requires dealing with many interruptions – as much managerial work does).

Related: Good Process Improvement PracticesHow to Get a New Management Strategy, Tool or Concept Adopted

I wrote the rough draft for this post a couple years ago (and finally got around to finishing it off). Not exactly a great one-piece flow, non-multitasking example.

10 Responses to “Practical Ways to Respect People”

  1. HR Bloggy Goodness | HREOnline's The Leader Board
    November 9th, 2011 @ 7:52 am

    […] it’s a cultural thing, like respect. John Hunter at Curious Cat Blog writes about practical ways to respect co-workers and colleagues, while Ian Welsh at HR Toolbox says employee relations is the key to HR […]

  2. Steven M
    November 10th, 2011 @ 5:22 am

    Fantastic advice, John, with some great examples.

    Many managers think trust and loyalty come with being in their position, that they deserve such things regardless, but those particular managers need to understand and realise that if they do not respect their staff then they will not be seen as trustworthy and will not receive much loyalty. You get what you give – if you show respect to your staff, they will return it in kind.

  3. Jamie Flinchbaugh
    December 20th, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    That’s a good list. I particularly like provide bad news early. I think people tell themselves “I have to wait to see how everything will play out” or “maybe I can combine it with some good news, if it ever comes” or whatever excuse they can concoct to avoid giving the bad news. But bad news should be delivered early.

    I wrote about how we get respect for people wrong here:

    http://jamieflinchbaugh.com/2011/12/4-myths-about-the-principle-of-respect-for-people/

  4. Long Term Thinking with Respect for People » Curious Cat Management Blog
    May 9th, 2012 @ 5:57 am

    Put the long term success of all stakeholders as the focus (don’t risk people’s jobs for short term bonuses, don’t use large amounts of leverage risking the future of the company…

  5. Better Management in Government » Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
    May 27th, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

    […] Respect for people is not about making no one uncomfortable. It is about giving them the opportunity to take pride in their work which many government organizations preclude with bad management practices. This includes allowing bad practices to be continued (which everyone acknowledge are not good but they tolerate). In government one aspect of respect for people requires that poor system and personal performances are not accepted and are addressed so that people don’t have to be ashamed of the results they achieve. […]

  6. Creating a Quality Culture » Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
    August 22nd, 2012 @ 8:19 pm

    There is far too much saying certain things (customers are valued, people are our most important assets, etc.) but not backing those claims up with management systems that would be needed to operationalize those beliefs…

  7. Maximizing Software Tester Value by Letting Them Spend More Time Thinking — Hexawise Software Testing Blog
    November 11th, 2012 @ 4:18 am

    Hexawise also lets the software tester easily tune the test coverage based on what is most important. Certain factors can be emphasized, others can be de-emphasised. Knowledge is needed to decide what factors are most important, but after that designing a test plan based on that knowledge shouldn’t take up staff time, good software can take care of that time consuming and difficult task…

  8. Respect for Employees – Don’t Waste the Ability of People « The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog
    June 13th, 2013 @ 5:35 am

    “Claiming to support our people while maintaining policies that do the opposite is damaging and all too common…”

  9. Thomas J Walter » November 2013 Leadership Development Carnival
    November 4th, 2013 @ 10:20 am

    […] John Hunter of Curious Cat Management says managers need to focus on eliminating the ways in which the organization de-motivates people. John brings us two posts to learn how to do so – Build an Environment Where Intrinsic Motivation Flourishes and Practical Ways to Respect People. […]

  10. Shortage of Implementation Details « The W. Edwards Deming Institute Blog
    October 27th, 2014 @ 10:14 pm

    […] control charts, flowcharts, cause and effect diagrams, visual job instructions, …), focus on respect for people and move toward evidence based decision making. Focus on doing a few things well. Don’t try […]

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