Want Retention? Try Respect.

For teams to flourish in the workplace, trust is key ingredient. My belief is that respect has to come first, It establishes the groundwork for trust to flourish.

Mutual respect in an organization allows a company to operate optimally, to shine: reducing stress and conflict, improving communication, increasing employee engagement and productivity. These results, in turn, lead to more job satisfaction and knowledge sharing, and generate stronger bonds between employees. If you are concerned about retention in a tight labor market, employees rate their number one desire from their boss and other leaders is to be treated with respect.

Respect and respectful behavior mean putting the focus on others, not ourselves. In a company, people in leadership positions affirm the level of respect within a team, project, function or entire company (depending on their responsibilities). You want the best from your team so you have to show them the best way of being. If everyone works at their best, the group delivers the best results or is the most dynamic.

Should you want the best from your team, as a leader, respect should be offered to everyone and expected by everyone as a given. Your behavior sets the standard; you are the role model that people pay attention to. What does that mean exactly? What is respectful behavior? How do you champion a respectful culture?

Ways to show respect:

  • Be polite towards others by treating people with consideration and kindness
  • Inspire group members to express their opinions and ideas
  • Listen to people fully without interrupting
  • Adhere to a no judgement zone personally and for their ideas
  • Use open body language when listening and speaking
  • Paying attention to what people are saying and how they are acting
  • Treat everyone equally with no favoritism
  • Praise more, criticize less
  • Criticism is offered as constructive criticism, asking questions to educate
  • Adopt ideas and actions from people

If you are already in a position of responsibility for other folks, and would like to foster a higher degree of respect within your team, an easy first step, is to greet each person every day. Really. By doing this, you are saying, “You are worth taking the time for. Your presence here matters”. While it may sound trivial to you because it’s so easy and you have many weighty responsibilities to attend to which you feel are priorities, to the others in your group, it’s meaningful; you validate them. If you value your team, particularly for the less seasoned members of your department or team, it is a significant way of showing them esteem and appreciation. In my years of studying leadership and developing leadership, I have seen leaders who receive the most respect are the ones who show the most respect; they instill loyalty.


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