Does your team respect you
A couple of years back I watched a reality TV program with teams renovating different apartments. One of the teams was an older couple, while the other teams were probably the age of their children. Now the older couple expected the younger teams to show them deference and respect because of their age. Yet the younger teams weren’t prepared to show deference to the older team. There were no favours granted because of age. In fact, the opposite occurred and because the older team demanded favours and respect they didn’t get either and often conflict occurred with the younger teams. The teams that treated other teams as equals got along together and were more likely to accommodate and help each other.
Now I frequently see similar situations where people expect others to respect them simply because they are older, more educated, richer, or, because they have a particular rank or title. Particularly in construction we see conflict when a younger person is the construction project manager and they have older, more experienced construction supervisors or foremen on the project. The construction project manager sees themselves as the boss, while some construction supervisors think they are God because they have years of construction experience, they are older, and have performed similar construction work, often the same way, for many years (sometimes even starting on the tools before the manager was even out of nappies). Do the two sides respect each other? No! Is it a recipe for conflict on the project? Yes! Will it impact the construction project? Undoubtedly!
However, as a young construction manager I often managed projects where my supervisors were much older than me – on occasion even being double my age. Were these projects a success? Yes. Did we respect each other? Yes – I always respected my construction supervisors and foremen, they did the hard work, they had the knowledge and experience and I depended on them, but, I had to earn the respect of my supervisors and foremen. They taught me. I was prepared to listen to them. But, when I thought I was right, I was ready to explain why my construction method was better than the one they were proposing. Even with the toughest and most experienced construction foreman I could persuade them to do things my way if I had to. We were a team.
What is respect?
People often confuse respect with being liked. Sometimes managers think that by being friends with their team this will earn them respect. They think that being ‘Mr Nice Guy’, or being liked, equates to respect. In fact, often the opposite occurs and managers who are friends with everyone and who are nice to their team are in fact despised behind their backs and not respected by the same people. Managers who regularly socialise and drink with some in their team, or don’t enforce discipline, usually aren’t respected, even though they may be liked as a drinking buddy.
We also mustn’t confuse being friends with being friendly. Being friendly means being of a pleasant demeanour and greeting other people. We can be friendly towards someone even if we don’t like them.
In my 30 year construction career I know I wasn’t always liked, and I made very few friends in the industry – however, I do know that I was respected by the people I worked with, including general workers, tradespeople, construction supervisors, engineers, construction managers, my immediate managers, my customers and their teams, subcontractors and suppliers. In fact it never ceases to amaze me who miss me the most, or ask after my wellbeing – it’s often some of the people that I argued the most with.
Vocabulary.com defines respect as; ‘Respect is a way of treating or thinking about something or someone. If you respect your teacher, you admire her and treat her well.’ If we look further they make the following definitions; ‘To respect someone’s judgement means that you value their judgement’, and ‘to show respect towards someone means you abide by or honour and observe’.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines respect as ‘admiration felt or shown for someone or something that you believe has good ideas or qualities: “I have great/the greatest respect for his ideas, although I don't agree with them”. “She is a formidable figure who commands a great deal of respect” (= who is greatly admired by others).’
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines respect as; ‘a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important, etc.: a feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way’.
So why is it important for your team, your manager, or your customer and their team to respect you? Well the essence comes from the above, that people who respect you will be more inclined to listen to, and value your judgement. They will be more likely to treat you well. They will be more likely to follow you.
Many parents say to their kids “you must do this because I say so” or “I’m your father and you should respect me” or “your father knows best”. Unfortunately what often follows is an argument, or, sometimes even outright defiance and disobedience. Now in most cases children should respect their parents, but they also need to be independent thinkers and shouldn’t just be following an instruction because it was given to them by a parent. Respect usually has to be earned by parents as well as those in authority.
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How do we earn respect?
Maybe we should rather ask, do you respect someone if they don’t respect you. Or, do you respect somebody if they lie, shout, are lazy, show poor judgement, behave badly or don’t have knowledge? Probably not! Respect is earned by:
Conclusion – why respect is important
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Copyright 2016 - The attached articles cannot be reproduced for commercial purposes without the consent of the author.
The opinions expressed in the attached articles are those of the writer. It should be noted that projects are varied and different laws and restrictions apply which depend on the location of the contractor and the project. It's important that the reader uses the supplied information taking cognisance of their particular circumstances. The writer assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss of any kind arising from the reader using the information or advice contained herein.
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