Do You Respect Your People?

How you treat your people is extremely important if you want your team to be successful. 

If you treat your people with respect, and see the potential of who they could be, they will follow you. If you don’t treat your people with respect, and treat them on how they appear to you initially, they will not follow you.

There has probably been a time in your life when you have heard the truth from someone, and it hurt. It’s probably hard to hear, but it hurt you because it was supposed to hurt you. I know the truth has hurt me on a number of occasions.

1. How Do You Feel At Your Current Place Of Work?

Do you feel that the organisation you work with respects you and all of your colleagues? Do you receive leadership development training, either in a one off intensive course or an ongoing programme? If you don’t, then your organisation does not respect you or your colleagues.

If your organisation respected you and your colleagues, then it would provide you, your colleagues, the middle management, the senior management, and the executive leadership team development training.

Everybody in the whole organisation should be trained in leadership, personal growth, character development, communication, and productivity.

Organisations that have low engagement with their people, and a high turnover, do so because they do not develop them. This is the norm for most organisations throughout the world, which is really unfortunate and has to change.

2. Treating People Better

They must learn from organisations who do have respect for their people, and provide them development training. Especially training in developing the character of all their people, not just the senior leaders.

When I was engineering technical manager for a UK train operator in London, I had a big team that were based in London, Essex, and Norwich. So they were spread around the south and east of England. I had a team of managers who I led, and they led their technical teams.

There was one particular team, the systems engineering team, who was led by a systems engineering manager, Andy. I had known Andy from my engineering graduate days, and we got along with each other fine. It wasn’t until I became his leader that things started to change.

This was Andy’s first job as a manager. Before he was systems engineering manager, he had been an engineer. He was chartered like me so was very experienced in the world of engineering.

However, during his career, he had received very little leadership development (character). But had received lots of engineering, and technical development (competency).

Unfortunately, Andy wasn’t doing as good a job as I thought he would. He was a great engineer, so naturally I and everyone else thought he would be a good leader. But this wasn’t the case, and a lot of people were noticing, mostly me.

When I addressed this with Andy, he retaliated against me. He felt like I was singling him out, and brought up mistakes that other people were making, rather than focussing on himself. I didn’t expect this retaliation from Andy, but it was something I had to deal with.

After we ended our initial conversation, I went away and thought long and hard on how I could help Andy, and how to resolve this.

I spoke with my boss, and we decided that we would bring in a consulting company who could help Andy with his leadership skills, and help him organise his team better. We wanted to see better results from him and his team, and we thought this help would be the answer.

So, when the company came in to meet the systems engineering team, I could feel that there was an atmosphere, and not a good one.

The consultants presented to us what they were going to do to help, and everyone kept asking awkward questions and saying things like, “We’ve seen this all before” and “This is money for old rope,” and the old favourite “This will never work.”

After the meeting ended I took the consultants aside and we agreed that this was just the first day, things will get better as we go through the new processes and training. As you may be able to imagine, things did not get better. They got worse, much worse in fact.

Andy and the systems engineers were becoming very disruptive to the rest of the technical team. They wouldn’t do work on time, sometimes they wouldn’t do work at all. The atmosphere in the team was toxic, and it was having a big strain on me.

I was getting criticism from my boss, his boss, the other engineering leaders, and it kept piling up. I couldn’t figure out why Andy and the systems engineers were behaving like this. I thought I was doing a good thing by bringing in consultants to help them.

There was even an occasion when one of the consultants phoned me up to tell me that Andy had verbally abused him, and insulted him. I couldn’t believe what was happening. So confronted Andy with this accusation and he denied everything.

I didn’t know what else to do. I let everything get on top of me and I even had to take time out with stress. It was during this time out that I learned why the team reacted with such retaliation to the consultants.

Do you know why?

You guessed it.

3. Involve Your People At The Right Time

I hadn’t involved the systems team in bringing in the consultants. I hadn’t asked their opinions, their ideas on how we can improve, and I hadn’t received their buy-in. I didn’t show them or Andy the respect, and that I wanted to help them develop. I hadn’t thought about character development, I only thought about competency development.

To be honest I didn’t even buy-in to bringing in consultants myself. I just went with it when I had the discussion with my boss. I was so disappointed in myself, and really got down on myself. Andy was eventually moved out of the systems engineering manager role and was replaced. It was my boss who made that move.

This was a huge lesson for me. I knew from then on that I needed to help all my future teams develop their character and competency, not just competency. I knew I had to work on myself every day to develop my own character first, before I could help others develop their character.

Lack of communication, lack of engagement, blaming, resistance, and bad mouthing from your team is a sign that you as the leader are lacking in character. Your character is weak, and you must work on it to make it stronger.

4. Working On Yourself

The starting point for this is to show respect to your team, and your team will in turn respect you back. By growing yourself first and developing your character first is how you become a highly effective leader.

If you make character development of your team the norm, then your influence will increase around the organisation and other teams, departments and leaders will follow your example. Character development and respect for Andy and the systems engineering team is where I should have started.

Highly effective leaders focus their efforts on character development because they know this is the best way to increase their influence. The more they increase their influence with their team, the more successful they will be.

The more successful they are, the more the influence of the leader and the team will increase into areas that they previously didn’t have any.

Highly effective leaders know how important character development is, and so should you. From now on, focus 80% of your time on character development and 20% of your time on competency development. That is for yourself, and your people.

It’s not about the results that you get, or the money you make for your organisation. It is about the lives you touch and the positive differences you can make in people that really counts.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

20 thoughts on “Do You Respect Your People?

  1. Thank you for these leadership insights. I’m convinced many old-school leaders still lead by the idea that knowledge is power instead of inspirational leadership. It is an absolute must for every leader to invest in themselves to improve skills like communication, active listening, empathy, empowering others, motivation, etc, Great website!

    1. Hi Angelique,

      Thank you for your comment and kind words. I’m so pleased that you found the article valuable.

      You are absolutely right, leaders (especially highly effective leaders) MUST invest in themselves so they can offer as much value to their people as possible.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. Great article Tom. This truck a chord with me. There have been times in my job where I have done everything in my power to help people, or what I thought was helping them. However sometimes all it needs is a quick chat and bounce ideas aroun until everyone is on the same page. Keep up the excellent work.

    1. Hi Russ,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so pleased that this article struck a chord with you.

      You are right, sometimes a quick chat and bouncing ideas off each other is how to start. Then we can take our leadership from there and keep involving our people. Keep that up my friend.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  3. What an important topic. It’s easier to blame others when things aren’t easy but more effective and important to look personally to see how our own attitudes and behaviors affect others. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Christy,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy you found the article helpful.

      Taking a step back and realising how we are affecting others is most certainly what a highly effective leader does and works on. The more you can do that, the more positive effect you will have on your people.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Hi Tom,

    You’re insight into Andy is something that rings very true to me.

    There is sometimes a tendnecy to be so results-focused and driven that we often forget to include our team in some of the decisions that we make.

    I for one, have been guilty of this in the past.

    However, much like yourself, I did learn from the experience, and I eventually managed to get the best out of my team, and felt as though I had improved myself as a person.

    Respect, it’s a two-way street, and I think this is something that ALL the best leaders are aware of.

    Thanks
    Partha

    1. Hi Partha,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that the article resonated with you.

      Thank you for sharing your experiences with your team, sounds like a real success story and I’m glad things improved.

      You are right, respect most certainly is a two-way street and it is something that ALL leaders MUST be aware of, not just the best.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Great valuable nuggets here! I always find myself in leadership situations, and I am looking to get better across the board. I’ll reference this article from time to time. Bookmarking the site now

    1. Hi Chawn,

      Thank you for your comment and for bookmarking the site. When you are in your leadership situations and you need any further help or advice then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Hello Tom,

    I’d like to start off with how I felt personally touched by this article. My last place of work did NOT care for their people. There were many issues that the company obviously needs to work towards to fix.

    In the story you shared about Andy, it’s amazing to hear that you were able to grow and learn from this to ultimately make yourself a better person. I found this very inspiring and informative!

    Thank you so much!

    Emily

    1. Hi Emily,

      Thank you for your comment and your very kind words. I’m so pleased that the article had a personal effect on you.

      It’s sad to hear that your last place of work did not care for their people at all, and I hope they are fixing the issues that you mention.

      I’m pretty sure that you will have learned from that situation so that you will care for your people.

      I’m glad you found the story with Andy inspiring, that was the aim.

      If you need any further advice or help with your leadership, personal growth or influence then please don’t hesitate to ask.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Your article hit a chord with me. It reminded me of a previous job of mine (previous, for a reason), where I was hired as a specialist in a specific technical area, yet my opinions were ignored over and over (and then they gave me a bad review because things didn’t improve, as my recommendations were ignored). More respect for politics than doing things right. Lots of hard work tossed at a whim… you get the idea. Add to it a “loose” command structure, and a manager that was ineffective.

    Needless to say, I left that toxic environment, but had they done things a bit differently, perhaps as your article suggested, I might have stayed longer.

    Respect. It is truly the currency that matters most, and can do more to influence people than yelling and power plays combined.

    Great article.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that the article hit a chord with you, I hope to hit a lot more chords.

      Thank you for sharing your experience in your previous role. I have experienced very similar experiences in toxic environments and therefore I too did leave.

      Respect is a two way street and the more that leaders see that, the better it will be.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. It’s not about results or money you make….I like that very, very much and couldn’t agree more! It is, however, as we can see in your story also, quite impossible to be of positive impact on lives of people who work with you (deliberately with, not for) if you do not treat them as equal to you, leaving them out, on issues in which they are concerned. They will, rightfully, feel degraded.
    A very life-like example of learning big on our own mistakes-well chosen.

    1. Hi Minaher,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      Yes, the example I chose was not the only one I have but it did play out my thoughts and hopefully got my message across. You’re right, it is not about the money you make or the results. Keep that thought in mind.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. Hi Tom,

    Thank you for this great story that you experienced and sharing with us what can be avoided or done better to avoid conflict at the wrong times.

    It’s true and I think many bosses and leaders need to learn how to treat the people below them with just as much respect and kindness and the working people under them respect them.

    Great leadership skills really does make a difference in a working place or any place so to say. And everyone should be treated well. even friends and family.

    Focusing on your own character is just as important and I ma happy you addressed that too. Everything will end up in a way that’s good for everyone and your own personal self.

    Great post thanks

    1. Hi Chantelle,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m really happy that you found the article useful.

      You are absolutely right, great leadership will make the difference between a good environment and a toxic environment. Leadership is the game changer.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. Hello, Tom

    You always provide such motivational articles with awesome suggestions that really do work, I do try my very best to respect everyone. I feel if you treat people with respect you will get along better and your entire team will be more productive.

    Jeff

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for your comment and kind words. It’s great that you find my articles motivational, that is what I’m going for.

      You are right, treating people with respect will most certainly strengthen the relationships within the team and productivity will be higher.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

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