The great sage of the later part of the 20th century, Rodney Dangerfield, was known for saying “I get no respect!”
Now this is partly in jest (he was a comedian rather than philosopher), but part of the reason for his popularity was because people related to that message. The corporate world even recognizes that lack of respect in the workplace is one of the most costly elements out there. Jayson DeMers, writing for Inc.com, says that one of the reasons employees don’t respect their boss is because the boss doesn’t respect the employee. Another Inc.com article starts off with the statement “It’s incredibly important to convey respect when you’re interacting with your employees. While that may seem obvious, unfortunately not nearly enough bosses do it.”
According to Harvard Business Review, employees who don’t feel respected are less productive and less open. While the article claims only 4% of disrespectful leaders are malicious, that doesn’t change the fact that 60% are ignorant of how to SHOW respect. And that lack of respect, regardless of the motive, leads to people leaving their company. John C Maxwell says that “People don’t leave their company, they leave their boss.”
So that brings us to you, the professional looking to leave a disrespectful environment for one that is opposite. Where do you start looking? How do you ensure you are respected in the place you end up next? I think there are two simple things you can do to maximize the chances; ask around and take personal responsibility.
Let’s start with personal responsibility. Remember earlier when we established that bosses aren’t respected because they don’t respect? You can flip that around and its still true. In fact, we can remove all workplace titles from the statement. People are less likely to respect someone that doesn’t respect them. What a horrible downward spiral we are in, no one respecting the other until respect is received first. Rather than waiting for someone else to change their habits, change yours. Take responsibility and make the commitment that YOU will show others the respect they have earned, not the respect that they show. Is this a guarantee that at your new company you will receive respect? No. But your odds are now higher.
This is simple, but it may not always be easy. We are creatures of habit, and you may have established habits of disrespect. For many, this will require intentional change. Read books and listen to talks on the subject to keep it at the forefront of your mind. No matter how difficult this process of change may be, stick with it because the benefits outweigh the costs.
You can also make the personal commitment to EARN respect in the future. Take advantage of age-old principles like going the extra mile by rendering more service than what is due, prove that you are more than competent at your job, and if you are going to give input on something, make sure you know what you are talking about. In essence, set yourself apart in a positive light.
I also say you should ask around. Do your homework on the company you are seeking to work with. Though I am not a fan of message boards, there are many sites such as Glassdoor.com that give employees a chance for telling their experiences. You can even ask for a reference of the company, or an employee you can interview/shadow. You might be told no, but my philosophy is that it never hurts to ask. When you get this opportunity, be sure to politely ask about how employees are treated.
In closing, there is no way to guarantee that you will receive respect in the future. You may be in a scenario where you have earned it and don’t receive it, or you may be at a place that gives respect liberally yet you get none because you don’t deserve it. That is why both parts, taking personal responsibility and looking for a culture of respect, are important. Control what you can control, and keep looking for a place you will be valued and treated appropriately. Those companies are out there, and they are looking for you.