RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.
*Written in 2014.
This is a follow up to my previous post, Business Assholes, Volume 1: Chronic Interrupters. I need to make this an ongoing series, as there are several different topics I want to talk about in regards to business, business relationships, leadership, work ethic, etc. This post deals with respect.
Pulling from my own experiences, I am often times in business environments where respect is demanded but it is never given. I’m not just talking management, I am talking everywhere. From the highest ranking officer down to the lowest ranking intern. Too many people are way too entitled and feel that they are deserving of the highest level of respect.
Let me start by saying that respect is important and it helps build relationships and camaraderie amongst co-workers, employees, employers, customers and everyday people. The thing is, respect needs to be mutual. What you have, or what I experience on the regular, is a slew of people that don’t really seem to understand the dynamics of respect. Respect is like love, as it is a two-way street.
Before I get into further generalizing, I should state that I do deal with the issues I am going to discuss here, within my own company. I know that others are in a much better work environment situation. However, I also know that most of my friends who I talk to, have similar experiences to mine, so this is pretty common – at least in my area.
Moving on, one example I am confronted with on a daily basis is the lack of respect shown by superiors. They have no respect for anything. Whether it is your opinion on a project, suggestions on how to improve things, your two cents in a meeting, your schedule, your needs, concerns over other office relationships or your personal life and issues. They just don’t care. They tell you they care and may say things like “We’re all family here.” Well, I was raised in a family where we showed respect and genuine concern and compassion for one another.
The problem is, they demand respect. They don’t understand the concept of what it is but they expect it. If they say jump… well, you know the rest. The point is, the old school boys’ club mentality is dying a pretty stark death in business but many can’t adjust to this, despite countless lawsuits or good people quitting on them.
They don’t understand how to build people up and why that is important. Sure, sometimes someone needs to be taken down a level but beating a horse until it’s nearly dead only to ease up long enough for it to recover a bit before beating on it some more is a pretty counterproductive way to run your company. Yet they demand respect. Why? Because they’re the big shit in charge and that’s just how the world is in their eyes.
Then there are the “you must respect me” co-workers, the ones who have a holier than thou attitude. Some either have a close connection to one of the bosses or they think by exhibiting the bad behavior they see employed by management, that they’ll move up the ladder. In many cases, they’re probably just miserable assholes.
These people are usually just caught up in their own crap and if you have to work on a shared project or approach them with a question, they cop an attitude and treat you like you’re less than shit. Of course, like the bosses mentioned above, you had better respect them or else. People like this are cancerous to a company. The problem is, management doesn’t squash their bullshit because they too have that same behavior.
In addition to these two types of respect-deficient office people, there is also the low level shithead with a god complex. Most of the time these are interns or newer employees who haven’t paid any sort of dues but think that they’re entitled to the perks and benefits of long-standing employees. They also show little-to-no respect for pretty much everyone above them. These people haven’t been in the workforce long enough to know anything. I blame their shitty professors, shitty parents and in some cases, the apparent lack of real management and leadership in the companies where they are able to continue their bullshit.
The point of running through all these examples is to show the bad behavior, bad attitudes and general misunderstanding of what respect is in many office environments. A company can’t expect to succeed at its highest level if these types of shenanigans are the norm. Reason being, you can’t get the best out of your employees if they aren’t happy.
Happiness in your job is a hell of a motivator and generally people aren’t happy if you beat them down and mistreat them. The “cogs in a machine” business mentality has always been one of destruction and failure. It can only sustain itself so long and the world is changing despite the iron fist of old school business ruling for so long. The most successful companies in the world right now are the ones that were formed as the antithesis to the old outdated way.
If a business owner wants their business to be as successful as it can possibly be, they need to understand that it starts with creating a good environment for your employees. Happiness is key and that comes from paying people fairly, paying attention to what they are doing for the company, making them feel like part of the team, treating them as a valuable asset and building them up. All these things I just mentioned are a part of respect. Without it on both sides, a business will never be what it can be.