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Leadership: It’s All About Respect Says Joe

Joe Torre turned down $5 million to coach the Yankees next year, $2.5 million less than he earned this year. True, there were incentives that could boost Torre’s pay by $3 million but for Torre that was too much. “I’ve been here 12 years and I didn’t think motivation was needed.” Torre skippered the Yankees to 12 consecutive playoffs and four World Series titles.

Joe Torre turned down $5 million to coach the Yankees next year, $2.5 million less than he earned this year. True, there were incentives that could boost Torre’s pay by $3 million but for Torre that was too much. “I’ve been here 12 years and I didn’t think motivation was needed.” Torre skippered the Yankees to 12 consecutive playoffs and four World Series titles.

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For Torre, his leaving was not about the money. “Yes, it was a very generous offer,” Torre said at his press conference. “But it wasn’t the type of commitment that ‘we’re trying to do something together.’” In Torre’s eyes, the deal was more “’let me see what you can do for me.’” Such an offer also was “not right for my players.” For Torre you win for yourself and your team – not your manager.

The Yankees are not alone in failing to show respect. Far too many organizations from the mom and pop store on the corner to global organizations fail to show their people adequate respect as individuals and as contributors. Respect is important; it is a bond that works both ways. Respect the individual and she will respect your company. Respect directly affects retention. According to data conducted by Sirota Survey Intelligence, “63 of those who do not feel treated with respect intend to leave within two years, vs. only 19% who feel they are shown respect.” And so it is useful to remind ourselves of ways we can show respect to folks on our team.

Treat people like contributors. Respect, like trust, is earned, but with one exception. You owe people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to respect. That is, you need to treat people in the workplace as contributors, as human beings who have talents, skills as well as emotions. Treating people fairly from the get go is an imperative. If they fail to live up to expectations, then you move them to new roles. You do not disrespect them through poor treatment. However, if they disrespect the institution by treating others poorly, then you show them the door, but always stay to the high side of the road. Do not get into the gutter with them.

Expect high standards. Employers have a right to expect people to perform the job they are hired to do. Savvy bosses take this a step further; they also insist on behavior expectations, that is, the mandate the people cooperate and coordinate with each other. This does not mean everyone must be friends, but it means that people pitch in to help each other and the team to do the work. Again, this is a form of respect.

Be open to feedback. Respect flows both ways. Managers need to give feedback to employees. But also managers need to find out what their people think about the work as well as their own performance as supervisors. Being open to feedback means that you care what people think about the work load and flow as well as their supervisor. Sometimes the boss can make changes; other times not. The important point is to listen. Again, it’s a matter of respect.

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Will people take advantage of the respect they are shown? Some will, of course. Ask any manager who has managed for more than a year, and he or she can pull out of a sheaf of lame excuses heard for not doing something. Failing to own up to responsibility is a lack of respect for the boss. So, too, is failing to own up to the consequences.

Accountability underscores respect. The individual who stands up for consequences good or bad deserves a degree of respect. Respect can be separated from performance. Failure to win it all may result in termination, as it did for Torre, but the man is no less deserving of common decency from his employer. The same applies to a manager who cannot bring a project to fruition. If he gave it his all, and was properly supported with people and resources, then he is not right for the job. But he is owed respect for effort. He clearly was not right for that job, but may be owed another chance at another position. How the company treats its people casts a long shadow. When people see slackers and achievers treated equally well or equally poorly, they lose confidence and good performers will move on. Respect rubs both ways. Just ask Joe Torre!

Sources:
“Torre uncomfortable with pay cut, incentives in deal” ESPN.com News 10.19.07
“Respect Related to Employee Retention, Says Survey” Sirota Survey Intelligence 5.15.06

John Baldoni • Leadership Expert: Executive Coach/Author/Speaker • Baldoni Consulting, LLC • www.johnbaldoni.com