Aretha was right.
Notwithstanding the overt sexuality of “sock it to me” Aretha's cover of Otis Redding's Respect stands as a model for the modern work environment.
And its just one of the best songs ever recorded.
All we want is a little respect
In both the private and public sectors at large and small enterprises I've witnessed many examples of respect in the workplace. Kudos for that.
But we're missing some opportunities as well and while I don't think we're getting 'worse' compared to sepia-tinged memories, there are some basics we've forgotten.
We're not giving each other our props
Like anything in life, to get something we have to give something. Hence, a little primer on giving respect.
- Listen – Regardless of role, level or tenure nothing says 'I don't care' faster than the person who can't listen to others. Listening and agreeing are not synonymous: you won't give away power by hearing others out. In fact, the more you listen, the more people want to communicate with you. This is power. This is influence. You as communicator. Want to play this part? Listen
- Time – Invest time as needed. Respect projects you're working on by allocating enough time to do them well. Respect your teammates by eliminating useless meetings. Respect customers by not bothering them with unnecessary abstracts, emails or proposals. Time is truly the one commodity we can't replenish. Spend it lavishly where needed – avoid wasting it elsewhere
- Role – Act like your role is important: it is. Managers lose credibility when denigrating their position and creatives lose influence when downplaying their contribution. Your role will be as influential and empowering as you make it so show it some love and respect and give it your best, whatever that is, all the time. We need you
- Commit – Wrap your arms around your job and hold nothing back – you can't go swimming without getting wet. Conditions will never be a 'perfect' yet holding back solves nothing. Jump in with both feet. Give all that you can and watch your peers give back. We can't help but respond to those who are trying their best
- Honest – Be honest with others and most of all with yourself. False praise is useless in the workplace, and brutal behavior under the guise of “tough love” is just mean. A little honesty will do. Be clear with yourself and others about where you stand and revel in how much easier it becomes to interact. Honesty isn't just the best policy, its a requirement. No one respects a phony
Respect has to be honored and, like trust, can be lost if not properly cared for. But the good news is that its always available to be earned.
There's no limit.
So give props as needed using the recipe above respecting yourself as you do so.
And get your groove on listening to the Queen of Soul.