EB105 - Mutual Respect, Accountability and Professionalism © Question:   The lack of civility in the workplace is increasing at a disturbing pace. What are the most important values in creating a positive work environment?

Larry:  This is one of the most common topics of discussion with my friends and colleagues. The foundations of mutual respect, accountability and professionalism are not being taught in our schools and homes - as they once were - and this is creating major problems for suppliers and consumers alike.  It is part of a social trend that has very significant consequences for productivity and profitability.  The following thoughts might be helpful in giving it some perspective

Mutual Respect: Treat People the Way You Want to Be Treated
One of the first things I observe when I visit a new client is whether or not people treat one another with respect.  It is an important measure of the overall business environment because the license for bad behavior starts at the top of the organization.  If people act in unrestrained ways it is because they feel entitled to indulge themselves.  It may mean that they are reacting to poor leadership traits such as tyranny or greed; or they may be acting badly because of the leader’s general lack of interest in them.  But when the employees treat one another with respect, it usually means that their leader is modeling the right values and is treating others the way he or she would want to be treated

Accountability: Upgrade from Loyal to Faithful
Loyalty is often referred to as an essential attribute in individual relationships and corporate human relations.  But it falls short of the concept of “faithfulness” because loyalty too often requires us to restrain ourselves from discussing the truth.  To be faithful, we must be unwavering in our commitments, always keep our promises, and never allow anyone to harm the person we serve, just as loyalty requires.  But faithful people also have no fear of speaking the truth, especially to the one we serve.  When someone expects us to obey without question, they are asking us to silence our conscience when we see and hear things that are wrong.  This is the foundation for tyranny.

Professionalism: Set a Clear Standard for Doing Things Right
As any sports coach will tell you, greatness is not found in the grand strategies, but in the disciplined execution of the fundamentals.  The great athletes, artists, musicians, scientists, lawyers, architects, and so on, have at least one thing in common: They have all mastered the fundamentals of their vocation.  This qualifies them to compete at a higher level with all the other professionals who have mastered the same fundamentals.  Watching someone perform at a high professional level can be very moving.  It causes us to think, and dream and set higher goals.  So if you believe your calling is to be a professional manager, it should be very encouraging to discover that the great managers like W. Edwards Deming and Philip Crosby built their careers on the mastery of simple fundamentals.  But if you just want to be the very best you can be in your chosen vocation, a professional who makes a difference, then the ethical decline in the workplace is presenting you with an opportunity to shine.