HRA Blog

Unwrapping the True Meaning of Respect in the Workplace

Written by Tiffany Aukema on .

I’ve spent the last several months facilitating respect in the workplace training to various organizations, discussing strategies to prevent sexual harassment and discrimination. I’ve extracted some incredibly rich lessons from the employees and managers who participated in these trainings which I believe are useful guidance for HR professionals moving into the New Year.

Every training was kicked off by asking a simple question, “What does respect mean to you?” The majority of time I was met with silence and blank stares. While occasionally someone would break the ice by launching into Aretha Franklin’s Respect, most of the time the participants would look uncomfortably at one another unsure how to answer.

At first blush, it seems like a simple response, but I completely understand the hesitancy of the participants or the perceived variance in responses. However, once the conversation started, there was one simple definition that we could all agree on – treat others as you wish to be treated.

As the conversation transitioned to diversity and its impact in a workplace, we discussed different work styles, educations, family or cultural upbringing, and personal and professional goals. It got me thinking…should we really be treating others exactly as we wish to be treated?

Aside from the shared interest in the organization we work for, most of our coworkers are very different and don’t actually want or need the same things out of their professional careers. For example, consider the colleague who is dedicated and hard-working, but is also quiet and somewhat introverted in the office.  Would she want to be publicly praised during a staff meeting and asked to speak in front of the group spontaneously?  Probably not.  On the other hand, you may have colleagues who thrive in the spotlight and are motivated by public recognition.

As managers and employees, we must take a hard look and evaluate what motivates our staff and colleagues. Consider everyone’s differences and how can we build strengths from these differences.

Through all of the extensive discussions on this topic, I have learned that respect is really about being aware and sensitive of each other’s differences. It doesn’t mean we should completely disregard the “Golden Rule,” but rather challenge each other to think beyond and treat everyone as unique individuals. Sometimes, this means treating others a little differently than how we would prefer to be treated

As we close out 2016, consider making a New Year’s resolution of treating everyone with individual kindness and respect. This “twist” on the Golden Rule can help you build stronger relationships in the workplace and, in turn, keep your colleagues, managers, and peers motivated, happy, and energized throughout the year and serve as a foundation for a truly respectful workplace.

Your Organizational Culture – Naughty or Nice?

Written by Cyndi Branciforte on .

This fall I attended the MBTI Users Conference and the Influence Factor where Josh Bersin, a principal at Deloitte, spoke about the company’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends Survey.  I left his presentation thinking about many issues that HR stakeholders should be contemplating as they begin planning for next year, most importantly, organizational culture.

Earlier this year, Bersin wrote an article where he shared that “culture” was the most popular word in 2014. This year, it continued to grow in popularity in leadership circles and boardrooms.  This actually didn’t surprise me because when created, sustained and communicated properly, the culture of an organization actually drives employee engagement.  What did strike me was that if culture is confusing, miscommunicated, or even toxic, it can prevent organizations from hiring and keeping the best talent.

In today’s professional world, nothing is secret. You can find all you need to know about an organization’s culture and leadership strengths at the tip of your fingers with a Glassdoor search. You can determine how employees feel about the organization, whether or not they would recommend employment to a friend, if it offers something unique and/or if you would be happy working there.

This transparency into an organization’s culture can either be used as a competitive advantage, or a competitive hindrance. So, with it being such an important thing to an organization, who creates the culture, where does the responsibility lie?

In my opinion, cultural identity must start at the top. The way your leaders conduct business, acknowledge and communicate with employees, and reward success helps to define organizational culture.  Last month, I attended the Northern Virginia Family Services 23rd annual Care Awards where thirteen companies received recognition for taking a stand and offering programs that help to positively shape their organizational cultures. Programs and best practices that were recognized included:

  • Unlimited PTO for sales employees who met their numbers
  • Encouraging employees to telecommute one day per week
  • Free healthy snacks at the office, but employees have to pay for soft drinks and candy
  • A “Kudos Bulletin” sent out by the CEO highlighting successes and client feedback or specific employees
  • Managers who are empowered to show their thanks in ways like Starbucks drinks, a free afternoon off, or lunch for the entire team.

Decisions to offer programs like these happen at the top, and smart managers know how to carry them out. Some of these programs don’t cost money, some are small investments, but all of these programs are taking positive steps toward creating a special bond within the workforce which solicits employee engagement and commitment. Because of their cultures, employees at these organizations want to work there.

So the question should be, as HR professionals, what can we do to help our organization’s leaders to develop and promote a culture to attract and retain top performers?   Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your culture successfully used to promote your organization?
  • How is your culture being used to develop future leaders and support the success of employees?
  • Are you promoting your culture to prospective talent?
  • Are you hiring employees that match the culture?
  • Are new employees properly educated on the organizational history and culture?
  • Are you introducing HR practices, ideas and programs to senior leadership that support and enhance the organizational culture?

If you’re not doing these things, you’re at risk of falling behind and of losing and/or missing out on some of the best, most talented people.

So, as you begin to decorate your office, plan your holiday parties and look forward to the coming year, take some time to reflect on how you intend to enhance and promote your organizational culture next year before you dive into the holidays!