https://www.bonnielowkramen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/culture_of_respect-for-Estate-and-Manor-Mag-620x400-300x194-1.jpg 194 300 competenow /wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bonnie-low-logo.png competenow2016-01-19 19:29:432016-01-19 19:29:43Forget the Free Lunch: Build a Culture of Respect Instead
By Bonnie Low-Kramen for Estate & Manor Magazine | January, 2016
“Everyone has inside themselves a piece of good news. Everyone is a very great, very important character. Everyone must be persuaded that they are immensely important. Everyone must respect them. We must listen to each other attentively. Give them great hopes, they need them. Yes, make them grow proud!” Ugo Betti, Italian playwright and judge.
“This isn’t a company that just talks about putting employees first or glibly claims that our people are our greatest asset. This is a company that simply wouldn’t exist without the energy, the determination, the wit and the wisdom of our people.” Richard Branson, CEO (Source: Virgin website)
In the aftermath of the 2012 Jerry Sandusky football scandal, Penn State President Rodney Erickson (now retired) said, “We must create a culture in which people are not afraid to speak up, management is not compartmentalized, all are expected to demonstrate the highest ethical standards, and the operating philosophy is open, collegial, and collaborative.”
What both leaders are talking about is a culture of respect and when this core value is authentically embraced by everyone in a private household, estate, or billion dollar company, it is far better than a free lunch.
In our complicated workplace, there have been many articles written about the perks that help retain good people including free lunches, on site gyms, and concierge services, to name just a few. I train and speak with personal assistants, executive assistants, executives, and principals all over the world and the feedback is consistent, no matter what state or country they work in. Staffers are craving and starved for cultures of respect. These are strong words but intentionally used.
Although they are certainly valuable, here are 6 things that matter more than free food, a place to work out, and yes, even money. Many of them don’t cost one penny and they are precisely the things that inspire staff to be loyal and to go above and beyond in the most difficult of situations.
- RESPECT Hands down the number one thing that staffers want is to feel respected, valued, and appreciated, not only by the principal but by each other. Easily said, not so easily done. Here are some very specific ways to demonstrate respect:
- Say “Good Morning, Staffer’s First Name” each day. This acknowledgement is vitally important because otherwise, you run the risk of making people feel like a number and merely a chair filler. People have quit jobs because the manager rarely/never acknowledges them. True story.
- Pronounce and spell names correctly. There is nothing more personal than someone’s name.
- Say “please” and “thank you” when directing staff. What takes a few extra seconds is the difference between a partnership and a dictatorship.
- Be honest yet compassionate. Mature adults can take it. The hard honest truth combined with empathy is much better than being kept in the dark. Wouldn’t you prefer to know?
- Be fair about rules and policies. Unfair practices and favoritism without explanation can lead to an attitude of, “What I do doesn’t matter anyway, so why should I work so hard?” Your colleagues are watching and remembering. If you doubt this, ask them.
- Offer and ask for frequent feedback about performance and not only at Annual Reviews. Ask questions like, “What can I do better to support you in your work?” and make it clear that you really want to know and that it is safe to tell you. It is not a matter of if but when problems and conflicts are going to arise. Regularly scheduled one-on-ones are the surest way to solve problems right away before they get a chance to escalate.
- Acknowledging birthdays and work anniversaries. This can be as low-cost as a sincere hand-written card which communicates “you matter.”
- A Voice in your own Destiny The smartest managers are the ones who give the staff some say in what projects they work on. Regular conversations about the rationale, the “why” behind what is happening in the household are important and contribute to a positive do-whatever-it-takes attitude. Resource: www.speakuppledge.com
- Flexibility On a recent Virgin Airlines flight, I asked the flight attendant about working at Virgin. He shared that it was the flexibility of schedule and routes that motivates him to not seek employment elsewhere – even though Virgin pays less than other airlines.
- Belief in the company’s values and mission I asked the Virgin flight attendant, “What is the number one reason you are so loyal to Virgin?” He didn’t hesitate. He stood up taller and said. “ I love what our company stands for. This is my home and these people are my family.” Wow. You cannot force anyone to feel like that. I know that feeling because being genuinely respected and proud was the reason I worked for 25 years with Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis and it is the reason we are still friends.
- Zero-Tolerance for Workplace Bullying Workplace bullying is an epidemic problem around the world and tolerating it is the fastest way to force good people to run for the exit. It is easier for demoralized staff to quit than to confront a yelling manager (or colleague) who leads by intimidation and uses public humiliation as a management strategy. Fear has created a suffering in silence mentality so when a staffer quits, they will rarely say the true reasons why at their exit interview which is a lose (manager)/lose (staffer)/lose (household or company) situation.
I have lost count of the assistants who report, “Our leaders either have no clue what is going on or they look the other way because it is too difficult to take the bully on.” These assistants feel abandoned, cynical, and unsupported. Households and companies with strong cultures of respect set a clear expectation that destructive and toxic behaviors will not be tolerated and when they exist, that swift action will be taken by management. For example, Campbell Soup in New Jersey has all staffers sign and re-commit to their “Code of Ethics” on an annual basis which is a key component to their culture of respect. Bullies cannot survive in an authentic culture of respect.
If workplace bullying is an issue for you or someone you know, I strongly recommend Laura Crawshaw’s book, “Taming the Abrasive Manager.”
Advertise your culture. Declare your culture of respect in the hiring materials, employee manual, and on the office walls. Staffers are powerful brand ambassadors. If you are in a corporate environment, go on Glassdoor.com to read the anonymous reviews and see what employees are saying about what it means to work at XYZ company. Publicly announcing a company’s values and standing behind them are critical for employee morale. At the Facebook offices, one sign on the wall encourages and challenges staffers with, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” which encourages the team to try new things.
Households and companies with strong cultures of respect that are backed up with consistent and clear action have the highest employee retention, increased productivity, and are the most profitable. The bottom line is that it is important for managers to take the time to get to know their team and learn about what makes them tick in order to build enthusiastic stakeholders. This is not only respectful but it is very smart business and a great use of time.Free lunches are short term perks. Cultures of respect sustain households and companies for the long-term. Wouldn’t it be great to have it all?