Building a Culture of Engagement with RESPECT™

Building a Culture of Engagement with RESPECT™

By Paul Marciano, Author, Consultant, Speaker
“Leading with RESPECT”
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Over the past decade research around the world has demonstrated the link between employee engagement and organizational vitality on a number of measures including productivity, profitability, quality, retention, and safety. Naturally, organizations have responded by putting programs into place to increase engagement. Unfortunately, many have failed because they have attempted to use the same traditional reward and recognition programs that they tried to use to motivate their employees.

Motivation and engagement are different. Motivation involves increasing one’s efforts to reach a desired outcome – this leads to “carrot and stick” approaches and short term changes in behavior. Once the carrot or stick is removed, the behavior returns to baseline levels. In fact, most traditional reward and recognition programs not only fail to increase the overall morale and engagement of a workforce, they often decrease it.

In contrast, employee engagement refers to a sense of commitment, dedication, and loyalty that leads to high levels of discretionary effort over time. “Programs” do not instill engagement because they do not affect the culture of the organization. Culture leads to behavior and behavior reinforces culture. If we want to create meaningful changes in the engagement of our workforce, we need to impact the culture of our organization.

My experience and research over the past 20 years has led me to one simple conclusion: Employee engagement depends on respect and on creating a culture of respect within the organization. Organizations with the most highly engaged employees exist where employees respect their organization, respect the leadership of the organization – especially their direct supervisor, respect the work that they do, respect their fellow team members, and feel respected.

Supervisors and organizational leaders can demonstrate and foster respect in 7 critical ways:

Recognition: Thanking employees and acknowledging their contributions on a daily basis
Empowerment: Providing employees with the tools, resources, training, and information they need to be successful
Supportive Feedback: Giving ongoing performance feedback – both positive and corrective
Partnering: Fostering a collaborative working environment
Expectation Setting: Establishing clear performance goals and holding employees accountable
Consideration: Demonstrating thoughtfulness, empathy, and kindness
Trust: Demonstrating faith and belief in their employees’ skills, abilities, and decisions

RESPECT is not a program. Rather, it is an actionable philosophy that leads to specific behaviors and impacts organizational culture. If your goal is to create highly engaged and dedicated employees, then spend some part of everyday showing them RESPECT!

There are 2 comments.

Alan Beggs

Cracking stuff! One of the most important things that is happening in the public sector right now is the implementation of lean. Sadly, almost nobody realises that this is actually not about tweaking processes to make them more efficient; it’s actually about bringing about a thorough-going culture change. You got it spot on – you described a lean culture which should be the target for organisations maturing into the 21st Century.

Lean is about finding and eliminating waste; but it has to be about people as well as processes. If it is to work, lean has to eliminate the global waste which is disengagement. A culture which you describe is exactly how this can be achieved.

One niggle – I think empowerment is about creating a sense of personal powerfulness. You do that through coaching, not by giving resources or training. Coaching lies right at the core of leadership in lean.

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“RESPECT is not a program” – well said, Paul! And well said Alan too – it really is about a culture change. If you can’t change a corporation’s culture, you cannot change that corporation. Just wanted to also share how much I appreciate Dr. Marciano’s commentary on HOW to change that culture, including his apparent hatred for “rewards” (read more on that here )

I think it’s high time people started realizing that cultural shifts take work, effort and dirty hands.. not a one-and-done “reward”.

All in all, great read!

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