Want to Build a Respectful, Resilient Workplace?

We’re often told leaders need to give respect in order to get it, but leaders aren’t the only ones who need to pay attention to respect. This is particularly true for those who want to be part of high-performance organizations. But what does respect have to do with high-performance?

In a recent piece published in the Harvard Business Review, Do Your Employees Feel Respected?, Kristie Rogers, Georgetown University researcher, shared her insights from studying the role respect plays in impacting employee engagement and organizational culture. Rogers explains, “Employees who say they feel respected are more satisfied with their jobs and more grateful for—and loyal to—their companies. They are more resilient, cooperate more with others, perform better and more creatively, and are more likely to take direction from their leaders. Conversely, a lack of respect can inflict real damage.”

Rogers’ research draws a line between respect and resilience with the bulk of her study taking place in an extreme work environment, a technology-focused business-to-business marketing firm staffed largely by inmates. In this setting, she was able to observe the company’s approach to engaging with their employees, inmates who faced disrespect in their lives in prison and varying degrees of resilience as they grew throughout the employment program.

Respect and resilience are gaining more attention in the people operations and HR space. And, according to Rogers’ research, they are worth understanding and improving in your organization if you want to create high-performing organizations with positive employee experiences. This was true for the organization Rogers studied and it is applicable for less extreme environments for a workforce.

Resilience is a necessary trait in today’s workplace where the rate of change continues to accelerate and where traditional hierarchical structures are being torn down. Although it is unrealistic to expect employees to feel fully engaged at all times, developing greater resilience in the face of major transitions in one’s personal and professional life can help individuals maintain a valuable level of performance and enthusiasm for their work, which greatly impact an organization’s bottom line.

For resilient employees, times of transition like leadership turnover, the introduction of a new product line, or an office move become less draining on their capacity to continue performing throughout these workplace adjustments. But, how do you create a respectful workforce that will nurture resilience?

Respect→ Resilience→ Organizational Performance?

An impetus that allows the benefits of both respectful and resilient individuals is required to make these attributes foundational for an organization’s culture. The translation of individual behavior on organizational culture starts with creating genuine connections between members of the organization, employees and leaders alike.

The best way to move toward connection? With a question. And then, listen to the answerWhen was the last time you asked your employees or your leaders asked you something like:

  • What’s one thing you feel we are doing well as an organization?
  • What can we do to ensure that we achieve our organization’s goals for this year?
  • What does your manager do that inspires you to deliver your best work?
  • Can you share an experience or story that demonstrates effective leadership or outstanding teamwork at our organization?

These questions can be feathered into one-on-one conversations, solicited offhand, or posed in a pulse survey to capture a higher volume of employee insights. The purpose is to start conversations that will lead to authentic employee voice.

When organizational leaders ask their employees to weigh in on decisions that will impact them and then act on that input, this plants the seed for deep-rooted respect and trust. It is easy to forego asking questions in favor of making decisions more quickly, but not only does this inhibit the growth of a respectful work environment, but it can also, ultimately, slow down an organization.

If leaders don’t have visibility to their employees’ experiences and expertise, then they will be susceptible to blindsiding when events take place that can threaten the organization’s ability to remain resilient in the face of changes in the marketplace.

Ultimately, leaders should encourage activity that will lead to high-performance as an organization. If resilience is one step toward performance and if respect nurtures resilience, then organizations must start asking more questions to garner a respectful work environment.

Have you worked for an organization where your leadership asked for your input and actually acted on it? Do you want to encourage a more respectful and resilient culture in your current organization? Reach out to start a conversation with our team to learn how to make questions, respect, resilience, and high-performance achievable.