Respect for every individual is foundational to creating and sustaining a culture of continuous improvement. The Shingo Institute states, “Individuals are energized when this type of respect is demonstrated. Most associates will say that to be respected is the most important thing they want from their employment. When people feel respected, they give far more than their hands—they give their minds and hearts as well.”
This principle is lived through the behaviors and actions of the people within your organization, especially the leaders. Here are seven ways leaders can show respect for every individual.
R – Recognize How Others are Feeling
Your actions impact those around you. When you show empathy and recognize how others are feeling this will help you show them respect. Consider your actions and words. Also, remember to take time to connect with people and listen to them share their feelings.
E – Everyone, Everyday, Every Situation
Respect must apply to everyone, everyday, in every situation. You can’t pick and choose when to be respectful because times when respect is not demonstrated will certainly overshadow the other times for those who felt disrespected.
S – Safety is a Priority
Safety should be a priority. People feel respected when they know their personal safety is a top priority. Prioritize not only physical safety, but mental safety too. This means creating an environment where people are not getting hurt and feel safe to escalate problems and concerns. An example of creating a safe environment is to have a process where safety issues, problems, or concerns can be surfaced and corrected.
P – Put People First
The people on your team should be a priority. One example of putting people first would be to show them that you want to understand their work capacity or the barriers they face in their work. These behaviors send a message that they are important to you and not just numbers to the organization.
E – Expectations are Clear
Our team member, Karen Flom, always says, “clear is kind.” Setting clear expectations is a great way to show respect to those you work with. Things like specific deliverables and timelines go a long way in showing respect for every individual. It is also a good idea to confirm a team member’s understanding of the expectations and verify that they are prepared to meet them (especially when giving them a new assignment).
C – Communication is Key
Communication is a key to respect for every individual. Remember that communication goes two directions. You should be communicating expectations, priorities, etc. to your team regularly and reiterating them. It is equally (if not more) important that there are open lines of communication back to you. Make sure there are communication processes in place within your team and organization.
T – Tell the Truth (Tactfully)
To be respectful you must tell the truth using tact. This can apply to many different things. Being as open and transparent as possible with your team about things that will impact them is important. It is also important to be truthful with feedback.
Respect for every individual is foundational to all of the Shingo Principles of Organizational Excellence. For your organization to truly foster a sustainable culture of continuous improvement, you must start with respect.
Aretha Franklin sang, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.” Respect can mean different things to different people so it would be helpful for you to talk with those around you about what it means to them. Please share with us what respect means to you or other ways you show respect for every individual in the comments section below.
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