Respect at Work Pays & Everyone Wins

Be Respectful


I get ticked off when executives get all weak at the knees when talking about values like the three elements of the Character Triangle: Accountability, Respect, and Abundance. “Real business men and women” talk about margin, cash flow, EBITDA , etc. But talk about personal values and the board room blushes. Why?

Real leaders know that business effectiveness is about balance and that getting great financial results ultimately depends on what PEOPLE do and how they do it. However, to make those more attracted to just the financial metrics, note the following.

Jack Wiley is the founder and Executive Director of the Kenexa High Performance Institute. Last year his team surveyed more than 30,000 people who work in the biggest economies—including Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S. and learned that workers across job types, cultures, industries, and pay scales don’t want to just be paid. While a quarter of employees rate pay as their highest priority, 75 percent of what employees most want has nothing to do with taking home a bigger paycheck—they want RESPECT: recognition, exciting work, security, pay, education, conditions, and truth.

RESPECT Makes Financial Sense

Wiley’s group contrasted companies that have high and low ratings for all of the RESPECT items defined above and found that high-RESPECT companies outperform low-RESPECT companies. The following is an excerpt from Wiley’s article in the October issue of Leadership Excellence magazine:

• Employee Engagement. Employees who get what they want from their organizations are more engaged than their unfulfilled counterparts. Their scores are 40 percentage points higher when it comes to workplace pride, satisfaction, advocacy, and commitment.

• Operation Performance. High-RESPECT employees outscore their low-RESPECT counterparts by more than 25 percentage points when asked about their companies’ product quality, customer satisfaction, and competitiveness.

• Customer Satisfaction. High- RESPECT companies achieve excellent scores, and greatly out perform their low-RESPECT competitors on the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

• Financial Performance. By correlating RESPECT scores against Diluted Earnings per Share, Return on Assets, and Total Shareholder Return, we found the high-RESPECT companies outperformed their low-RESPECT competitors across all three financial metrics.

Character Move:

  1. Recognize that most elements of RESPECT don’t cost much to improve. BUT it takes conscious and focused action. You need to be aware where you stand on the RESPECT continuum.
  2. Read Wiley’s work and the Respect chapter in The Character Triangle to better understand the behavior that supports building respect.
  3. Take action yourself. If you’re a manager, determine what action you can take in your area to drive reinforce it. Measure for it. If you are an individual contributor, lead by your action.
  4. Remember that RESPECT pays!

Respect as a dividend in The Triangle,