Respect is one of the most important and essential traits in the workplace. It allows you and your team to work together to accomplish goals. You need to respect your team, manager, and clients to receive respect from them.

Respect is at the root of continuous improvement

Continuous improvement isn’t about the things you do well—that’s what work is. Continuous improvement is about removing the things that get in the way of your work—the headaches, the things that slow you down, that’s what continuous improvement is all about.

However, nothing causes more headaches and hurts productivity and quality more than the lack of respect in the workplace. You can improve systems, enhance processes, and even upgrade machinery, but without respect as the foundational principle in your organization, none of your improvement efforts will matter.

What is respect?

The word respect comes from the Latin word “respectus” meaning attention, regard, or consideration. If you go to the dictionary, you find it’s not only “to be held in esteem,” but also, “to hold in esteem.” It’s the action of treating people with appreciation and dignity.

It’s a concept that refers not only to the ability to value and honor another person—but to also value and honor yourself. We as individuals contribute to a culture of “Respect for People” just by how we show up in each moment. It starts with self-awareness and personal accountability for our own influence.

Respect is proactive

It’s essential to understand that respecting others isn’t dependent on how they treat you. Even though it may be “natural” to be disrespectful or defensive when treated with disrespect, you must always behave respectfully. You can’t be respectful and defensive at the same time.

Why is respect important?

Without it, interpersonal relationships will be filled with conflict and dissatisfaction. If we don’t respect others, they won’t respect us, and if we don’t respect ourselves we won’t be respected by others either. It’s essential to feel safe, to be able to express ourselves without fear of being judged, humiliated, or discriminated against.

What is respect in the workplace?

A respectful attitude should be standard in the workplace regardless of personal feelings. Both employers and employees need to give respect to each other and their peers. As a team member, you can respect your coworkers and your managers by giving them the attention they need, listening to their opinions, and speaking with kindness.

What is the importance of respect at work?

Some benefits of respect in the workplace include:

Respect reduces stress
Respected employees feel more comfortable sharing ideas and working with their peers to accomplish their goals. Increased respect and reduced stress have a mental, as well as a physical impact on the health of workers.

Respect increases productivity and collaboration
When you respect your coworkers, you turn to them for help and get their ideas on various problems and issues. This leads to more creative solutions and increased collaboration, so work gets done faster and more efficiently.

Respect improves employee satisfaction
Collaboration and productivity together create a positive workplace with satisfied employees. This sense of satisfaction has the power to benefit employers in the long run. Satisfied employees typically want to stay at the companies that value them and look for ways to advance or grow their careers.

Respect creates a fair environment
One of the most important things an employer can offer is a chance for employees to show their skills and knowledge regardless of their background. A fair chance is powerful because it allows different types of employees to participate. In the right setting, employees can bloom when they are given a chance to contribute fairly.

How do you show respect in the workplace?
Every workspace is unique, and team members can show respect in different ways. However, there are some universal ways to show respect in the workplace and improve the levels of respect within your team:

Listen to what everyone has to say
Listen carefully to what others have to say, and give them time to share their ideas. This can lead to a healthier and happier environment. Encourage everyone to participate. This might increase collaboration within your team.

Pay attention to nonverbal communication
Respect applies to nonverbal communication and body language as well. You can support your peers and be respectful even without talking.

Practice transparency
People feel respected when they are trusted with information and understand the bigger picture and larger goals within an organization. By taking steps to be transparent, you show that you trust your colleagues with information and want to work toward solutions together.

Recognize the strengths and accomplishments of others
In the same way that you should listen to what others have to say and acknowledge their good ideas, it’s also important to recognize the strengths and accomplishments of the people on your team. Try to praise others for their skills, dedication or successes to show your respect and appreciation.

Value the time and workloads of others
By understanding that other people in the company are busy, you can give them respect. Ideally, they will return the respect to you. If you schedule a meeting, make sure that it starts and ends on time. This shows respect to your coworkers because you value their time and the work they have to do.

Delegate meaningful work
Give team members work that is relevant to their jobs or beneficial to their careers. This will create meaning in what they do and might make them want to help you in the future.

Consider how others view you and your actions
Always be aware of your words and actions in the workplace and how they might affect your teammates. Try to think before you speak, or talk to your coworkers about the language you use. A few small changes can help improve respect.

What are other forms of respect?

Respect for value
Value is not price or cost but rather the worth that your customer places in the products and services you provide them. This worth is related to cost, but they are different. It is important to remember that value can only come from the customer. Creation of value is the sole aim of business and all things that interfere with the creation of value should be avoided.

Respect for time
Everything other than time can be purchased. All activities must be designed to make the absolute best use of time. Being sensitive to the finite resource of time, for all parties in the supply chain, is fundamental to process excellence.

Respect for gemba
The gemba is the place and the systems that people use to generate all value. Value does not come into being through random acts; it must be purposefully constructed by employees and suppliers for customers. Knowing the gemba is fundamental to process excellence. The better we understand this complex interaction, the better we are at delivering value.

Respect for problems
Most companies equate process excellence with the elimination of problems but this is not necessarily a healthy stance. All processes will eventually have problems. What differentiates quality organizations is how they deal with problems. Problems give us insight into the gemba. The presence of problems reminds us that we have more to learn about how our business works and gives us opportunities to improve the value we deliver to our customers. By embracing issues and solving our problems we improve the people, we improve the use of our time, we improve our gemba and we improve the value we are able to create.