Updated 2/19/2021. Originally published 9/24/2017.

During a recent discussion with several colleagues at a learning and design conference, the subject of working in teams and respecting team member contributions, became animated. Several questions were bounced around during the course of the discussion, including:

  • How would you define workplace respect within your organization?
  • What examples of workplace respect should you be looking for?
  • What steps can each of us take to demonstrate mutual respect’s professional abilities and talents?
  • How can we “model the way” for new team members

Respect is one of the cores of relationships that makes today’s organizations and businesses work. Whenever a respectful attitude is practiced towards other team members, it adds value and meaning to relationships. Research shows that a harmonious and collaborative working environment contributes to the overall well-being and improved health of individual employees, managers, and consultants. An added benefit is the reduced work-related stress and higher collaboration between the workers.

Irrespective of how your team defines workplace respect, developing a culture of respect is not as simple as it seems. A seemingly insignificant miscommunication could easily spiral out of control and contribute to continuous difficult working relationships. Allowing and ignoring workplace tension contributes to disrespect among employees. What are the ways to promote a respectful workplace?

Articulate Expectations

It is difficult to hold all your employees accountable, if you have not communicated expectations properly. Writing policies that relate to the way your business expectations, and communicating consistently and openly with your team allows them guidelines to effectively work together.

Leadership Model

Your group cannot just talk to talk keep in mind that your executive team requires you to walk the walk. It is just a fair assumption that if you are suffering issues related to workplace respect among the administration, your support staff will tend to face even bigger issues. Respect in the workplace begins at the top and must be consistent and fair no matter what the position and title within the organization.

Measurable Learning

By simply informing your employees to be respectful and be able to communicate properly is not enough to build an impact on the present culture. Every person has his or her own view of what is the right way to communicate. Provide business training, related to respect, collaborative communication, presenting and receiving feedback, etc. Professional skills delivered and practices within a the safe space of the workplace training, allow an opportunity to practice and evaluate necessary skills.

Feedback and Response

It is essential that you understand the culture within your organization could easily shift based on new projects, strategic goals, new team managers and members onboarding and exiting an organization. The workplace culture in which you excelled for many years ago might not reflect today’s workplace.

One method to gauge employee perception of workplace respect is to ask. Provide a consistent, confidential process for employees to articulate their thoughts and opinions. Be open to accepting and acting upon the feedback received. Communicate the feedback results, no matter the message. Articulate the path from where the organization perception is today, to the desired perception of the future.

Building the culture of an organization, which reflects your values and encourages a workplace respect, is an ongoing endeavor.


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Practicing behaviors that lead to greater team work and improved communication in the workplace.