Don’t look now, but our friends at Harvard Business Review (HBR) are back. That’s right. This time they want us to know:
In a study published in the Harvard Business Review involving close to 20,000 employees around the world, there’s one thing that leaders need to demonstrate. Aretha Franklin sang it 50 years ago: R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
That’s not to say Harvard or HBR actually conducted the study. They just published it. Well … they didn’t exactly publish it. They had a conversation with one of the people who conducted the study. Then they transcribed part of the conversation and called it, “What Employees Want to See Most in Their Bosses Comes Down to a Single Word, Says Research“. Nice.
The person with whom they spoke was:
Christine Porath, associate professor of management at Georgetown University [who], along with Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project, conducted the global survey to determine how your workplace experience compares with that of others across five categories: health and well-being; trust and safety; enjoyment and satisfaction; focus and prioritization; and meaning and significance.
I want to state for the record that, despite what the citation above says, neither Porath nor Schwartz asked me a single question about my workplace. So, we apparently have to allow the citation a little windage for editorial license. But that’s okay.
The bombshell conclusion from this global survey, of course, is this:
Being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, communicating an inspiring vision, providing useful feedback — or even opportunities for learning, growth, and development.
Hmm … For what it’s worth, here’s my thinking on the subject:
I’m quite sure employees want their employers to respect them. I’m equally sure employers can give their employees recognition, appreciation, and an inspiring vision — and provide useful feedback or opportunities for learning, growth, and development — without respecting them. But I don’t know how. And I’m absolutely certain employees can get from their employers recognition, appreciation, and an inspiring vision — and be provided useful feedback or opportunities for learning, growth and development — without believing they’re respected (especially in response to appropriately leading questions). But I don’t know how.
I do know this: If employees believe they can get from their employers recognition, appreciation, and an inspiring vision and be provided useful feedback or opportunities for learning, growth and development without believing they’re respected — and if we’re going to swallow the results of this alleged survey — we all have to do one thing. And it’s not respect; although, we might consider respecting ourselves enough to take loaded tripe like this survey with a grain of salt.
Respect is not what we need to do here. Granted, Aretha made it a great song. But it’s not the song I had in mind.
Photo by InSapphoWeTrust, via Wikimedia Commons.