How do you Spell a Healthy Organization: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc. - My work takes me to many different organizations. I can spot a healthy organization immediately. What I look for is the level of mutual respect.

In unhealthy organizations:

  • Management and employees talk negatively about each other behind their backs.
  • Senior managers don't even bother to learn the names of employees. They also ignore employees when passing them in the hallways.
  • Meetings within the organization consist of constant squabbling and second-guessing.
  • Supervisors fail to introduce their direct reports to visitors such as customers and suppliers.
  • Supervisors micromanage their staff because they don't trust them.
  • Managers interrupt their private meetings with employees when the phone rings.
  • Employees from different departments treat each other as adversaries rather than valued colleagues.
  • The groups of employees sitting together in the company cafeteria are segregated by rank and race.
  • Management and employees show a particular lack of respect for the lowest paid employees.
  • Employees consistently arrive late to meetings.
  • Employees demonstrate poor manners such as not opening doors for each other, not refilling the coffee pot when it is empty, and making visitors wait for long periods of time before an appointment.

Do any of these things happen in your organization? If so, here is what you need to do.


  1. Start at the TopSenior managers need to be sensitized about the importance of respecting each other, their direct reports, and all employees. They should serve as role models by consistently demonstrating respect for others.
  2. Include Personal Respect in the Mission Statement Make respect for employees an important part of the company mission. Communicate the mission widely and consistently to all employees.
  3. Provide Ongoing Feedback to Employees About Respect Instruct supervisors to provide employees with positive recognition for showing respect. When they catch employees in the act of demonstrating respect, they should tell them that this type of behavior is valued by the organization.
  4. Use Your Organization's Performance Appraisal System Don't let the practice of respect just fall through the cracks. Rate managers and supervisors on how well they show respect for other employees.

Unfortunately, we live in an "Apprentice-like" society where respect takes a back seat to achieving "numbers", grabbing power, and backstabbing. Fight the trend. Do your small part of making your organization a better place to work. Preach and practice the lost art of personal respect.

Contact Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D.",The Survey Doctor"
9 Blair Circle Sharon, MA 02067
Voice - 781-784-4367 Fax - 781-784-6450
E-mail - [email protected] Web -

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