Do you recognize respect when you see it?
Your business success is based on the 12 vital signs of respect.
Do you recognize the following vital signs in your workplace?
People are following the rules – They understand that written rules are a safety net for work conduct. They understand, however, that thoughtlessly following the rules isn't the goal – they have figured out how to comply with the written rules in a way that meets the spirit of the rules rather than the letter of the rules.
People are participating – They are interested in what is happening, in the projects and initiatives that are being pursued. They give credit to those who do the work and to those who help out.
People are attempting to resolve problems locally – any day-to-day disagreements and hiccups in the way they get along – They identify poor behaviour respectfully and directly. They have high expectations of each other. They invest time and effort in helping each other get along. When they see things getting out of control, they step in and help each other out.
For the 12 vital signs of respect, read the full story
Bringing to life the 'get-along-with-each-other' clause in a local government contract has saved the tourist season, made customer complaints a thing of the past, and put road workers on a community pedestal in the District of Peachland.
Nestled on the shore of Okanagan Lake in British Columbia (BC), Canada, the District of Peachland faced the daunting prospect of tearing up its main street, Beach Avenue, at the height of this year's tourist season.
For the small community heavily reliant on summer tourism, tearing up its only through road had the potential to become a flashpoint for community discontent.
Considering the contentious nature of the Beach Avenue project, Peachland had to rethink its community and road worker relationship management strategy.
District of Peachland director of operations Doug Allin said conducting road works was like operating in a "fishbowl", so road workers needed customer service as well as building skills to operate effectively.
"We wanted to ensure a positive experience with our customers interacting with the workers," he added.
Basically, Peachland had to ensure road workers and community members got along with each other under difficult circumstances – easier said then done.
To resolve the problem, Peachland hit on the idea of including respectful workplace requirements in its contractor agreement for the Beach Avenue road works.
Peachland had already experienced first hand the benefits of respectful workplace requirements, as it had previously implemented ProActive ReSolution's Respectful Workplace Program for its employees.
ProActive's Respectful Workplace Program helped Peachland to set behavioural expectations for managers and employees. Managers and employees now had clear and consistent rules about how to behave respectfully toward each other at all times, Allin said.
District of Peachland CAO Elsie Lemke said ProActive's Respectful Workplace Program also gave managers and employees the tools to assess and respond appropriately to disrespectful behaviour among themselves.
So how did Peachland apply ProActive's Respectful Workplace Program principles to the Beach Avenue road works?
"We stipulated as part of the tender that any contractor who won had to go through respectful workplace training and Superhost training [BC Government sponsored and run tourism training programs for businesses and agencies on how to be good "hosts" to tourists, visitors and clients], and have all its personnel working on the site do the same thing," Lemke said.
Peachland also specified in the terms of the contract that the contractor would have to deal immediately with any complaint against any of its personnel.
Allin said it was mandatory for the contractor to introduce a zero tolerance policy for unacceptable behaviour; any personnel who didn't comply with the policy would be removed from the job.
Contractors were "taken aback a little to begin with" but eventually saw the process as worthwhile, Allin said.
The respectful workplace benefits have been significant. "The project has gone so well, it's been incredible," Lemke said. "We have had letters to the editor praising the flag people and the people working on the site. Not one complaint by letter or phone call, which is unheard of."
Allin said, with past projects, he would spend on average one hour per day on complaints. In some instances, he said he would have to go to the job site to help resolve the complaint.
"For anyone who thinks the respectful workplace program takes up too much time or effort to implement" they should reconsider the outcomes, Lemke said.
Peachland's experience shows that investing in respectful workplace policy and skill development can generate tangible returns.
If we want our businesses and communities to blossom, we must check the health of our relationships as well as our bottom line.
Peachland's experience demonstrates just how important relationships are in achieving our goals. Businesses and organizations that pay attention to how people get along with each other create benefits for everyone.
For more details, visit ProActive ReSolutions and the District of Peachland
Respectful Workplaces: practical
steps to a big society
This paper from our partner Cornerstone Global provides a warning and evidence that managers should tackle harmful behaviour and conflict at work and build respectful workplaces.
For more details, visit Cornerstone Global