A detailed neuroleadership explanation of the impact of respectful behavior on employee and company success.
My stomach still gets tied up in knots when I think about that meeting. We were off-site for a strategy-business planning session. The tables were in a U-shape and the CEO sat off to the side.
It all started as a light-hearted discussion that devolved into a tirade – with me at the center of the CEO’s ire. I don’t remember much from the meeting, only that shut-down feeling and wanting to run away in tears. Instead, I sat there dumbfounded. As I looked around the room (in a sort of out-of-body experience), I noticed the look on the other managers’ faces that clearly said, “Glad I’m not you!”
Apparently, I’m not the only one who has had this kind of experience. It’s a common story for many people as documented by Paul Meshanko in his book, The Respect Effect: Using the Science of Neuroleadership to Inspire a More Loyal and Productive Workplace.
Meshanko is the CEO of Legacy Business Cultures, a company that serves corporations growing demand for change management and employee engagement training. Legacy’s client base consists of Fortune 500 companies who understand the profit power of engaged employees and look to him for guidance and coaching to prepare them for growth and success.
I received this book from a friend and was really impressed with the new perspective that the author lends to this popular topic.
Your Brain is Wired to Thrive on Respect
Aretha Franklin was a woman before her time. It’s no wonder R-E-S-P-E-C-T was a hit. Our brains can’t get enough of it.
There truly are thousands of books on the subject of employee engagement. But what sets The Respect Effect apart from the rest is its focus on the brain and how both respectful and disrespectful behaviors impact our brain chemistry and therefore our behavior and performance.
The Respect Effect contains plenty of examples of both desirable and undesirable behaviors that you can take on and practice for yourself. For example, here is a short list of “respect” enhancing behaviors:
- Offering a verbal complement.
- Making eye contact.
- Supporting someone’s work.
- Giving public recognition.
Meshanko goes into detail explaining how powerful giving respect is – not just in terms of creating a pleasant place to work, but in creating a profitable enterprise.
Likewise, here is a list of disrespectful behaviors:
- Being lied to.
- Excluded from important meetings.
- Using ethnic slurs.
- Taking credit for another’s idea.
These kinds of behaviors literally shut employee performance down and literally cost you money.
The Cost of Disrespect in the Workplace
No joke. According to statistics published by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, US corporations paid $445.8 million to settle discrimination-related violations in 2012. These numbers only reflect those cases that actually went to court. They don’t reflect those cases that were settled out of court.
The estimated cost with those included is about four times the actual amount of fines collected. The estimates of total cost of being “disrespectful” is at about $2 billion!
More costly than the money paid out, is the cost of productivity and human potential. It’s no secret that the most profitable and successful companies are those that are also known as wonderful places to work.
Respect Comes Naturally
Meshanko has pulled together twelve rules of respect that are outlined in the book. The good news for most of us is that being respectful isn’t hard work. Respect comes naturally for the vast majority of people.
One important insight for all small business owners to take seriously: The greater the authority a person has in an organization – the more damage they can do.
This is what makes these twelve best-behaviors critical for all leaders.
- Be aware of your non-verbal and verbal cues.
- Develop curiosity about the perspective of others.
- Assume that everyone is smart about something.
- Become a better listener by shaking your “but” (and replace with “and”).
- Look for opportunities to connect with and support others.
- When you disagree, respectfully explain why.
- Look for opportunities to grow, stretch and change.
- Learn to be wrong on occasion.
- Never hesitate to say you are sorry.
- Intentionally engage others in ways the build their self-esteem.
- Be respectful of time when making comments.
See, nothing new here. You are already doing many of these things. The idea is to do them consciously and to manage yourself accordingly.
Will They Ever Learn?
As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think the same thought I have every time I read a book like this, “If respect is so wonderful and generates more profitable and fun places to work, why do we continue to reward bad behavior?”
I’m not sure that Meshanko answers this question. I think the objective of getting this book into the market is to show and prove to as many organizations as possible that hiring and promoting managers and leaders with bad behavior is actually costing them money and access to great employees with great ideas.
I’m not sure if those people will ever learn.
But if you grab a copy of this book – you will certainly learn the profitability power of respect.
John @ lead nurturing
Wow! I had no idea respect could cost so much. I can now see that the companies that people hate working at are probably the ones that pay the most in settlements and law suites. It is true for some reason that some people feel they need to be jerks in order to advance.
It looks like in business it pays to be the nice guy.
Ivana S Taylor
Hi John — I had no idea either. Maybe my experience is unique – but I have this impression that bad and mean behavior is rewarded. Maybe that’s because fear creates immediate results, but then those results get eroded as time goes on. I honestly have no idea.
I do wish that more companies adopted Meshanko’s philosophy.
John @ lead nurturing
“Eroded as time goes on” is exactly what happens. It would make the world a better place if more companies and people adopted this philosophy. That is for sure.