Respect is one of those must-haves in the workplace. It doesn’t matter what age you are. Respect should be shown for our work done, words spoken, and capabilities shown. Without respect, good attitudes fade and questions arise: Should I leave? Do I weather the storm?
Financial viability enters the picture. Individuals need to have a sound financial base. In a recent Forbes article entitled “10 Reasons Strong Personal Finances Are Critical to Your Professional Career,” the reasons standout clearly. A sound financial foundation is so important yet it is always a challenge to do, especially starting out in a new career. However, when asking the two previous questions, without a financial foundation, the questions turn to: Can I afford to leave? How long do I have to weather the storm?
The Balance of Respect and Financial Viability
Respect and financial viability are tied together in the answers. Having the financial base enables us to be more confident in our attitudes and it enables us to walk away if respect dissipates. Now, I am not advocating job-hopping or leaving when the going gets tough. We always need to try to change from within, whether it is as individual leaders or organizations in which we work. We owe it to ourselves to try. We owe it to the larger organizational mission to make the effort.
In trying, we learn. We gain experiences on how to turn organizations around and enlighten leaders on how to lead differently. We need to give our best efforts in all we do.
At times, unfortunately, there is too much momentum or history to try to facilitate a change. We may not have the position to do it. We may become worn out in trying. In these times, especially when respect is lacking, we need to move on and financial viability is an enabler.
Disrespect: When Is Enough Enough?
Respect comes in many ways. Three key areas are in our individual identity, our work, and our ideas. When certain lines are crossed, it may be time to leave, and preparation is key.
Respect as an individual.
Exhibiting integrity and character is essential in all we do and say. It is evident in our interactions and in our follow through. If we are asked to do or say things that disrespect others or go against the grain of our core beliefs, then enough is enough.
Planning steps to consider: When personal respect is involved, the decision to leave can happen quickly. There will be red flags so be prepared. You will need to have your track record defined and your transitional story ready.
Respect in work done.
Delivering high quality, timely results is a necessity. It is a reflection on us. If our deliverables are always given credit to someone else, then a line may be crossed. Team work is vital but so is getting recognized, even in small ways, for the quality of our work.
Our role on teams and in organizations should be based on mutual trust, where our voice is heard and valued. In a trust-filled give-and-take, the best results unfold. When this trust is broken continuously and intentionally, enough is enough.
Planning steps to consider: You need to have defined metrics and evidence of how you achieved them. Your track record must be proven, and collaborative work needs to be corroborated. References will need to be ready to vouch for the value of your participation in team interactions and outcomes.
Respect in perspective and ideas.
In our work, we need to be creative and innovative in our approach. At times, the work just needs to get done and, other times, we need to show new ways to change the game and enhance the results. If our ideas are ignored or taken for granted, enough is enough.
Planning steps to consider: You need to be able to demonstrate how your ideas worked and what the adoption proved. It is a record of creativity in thinking and innovation in how or what is done.
When to leave or not may depend on a degree of seriousness and length of repeated occurrences. Loss of personal respect will drive decisions more quickly than others. When more than one area deteriorates over time, a decision may unfold more deliberately. In most cases, it will be a judgment call. We need to be mindful in our approach and decision.
As Dr. Marla Gottschalk pointed out in a recent article:
“One factor which is often a silent contributor to this decision, is the status of the psychological contract that exists between ourselves and our employer. Often, the inevitability of leaving, may have actually been cast long before the final decision to pull up roots has been made – as the very core of the employer-employee relationship has already been significantly damaged. The damage occurs when we have been let down in some way – or perceive that a promise has not been fulfilled.”
There is a contract, and both parties have a responsibility. When this falters, changing from within is the first step, and leaving should be the last one (in most cases).
Financial: When Is Enough Enough?
And, now we come back to finances. Having a reasonable financial base makes career transitions more manageable. There may be many different rules of thumb. Most would likely say at least six months of a financial safety is required; you might want twelve, especially in economically challenging times. Other factors may include:
- Is a move required?
- What job opportunities are available?
- Is this the time to start an entrepreneurial endeavor?
Answers to these questions may drive having a more solid financial foundation in place before making a move.
Respect is earned. Retaining our respect requires a sound financial base to use when work environments turn disrespectful. Having the financial wherewithal keeps us centered in self-confidence and self-respect.
How do you measure respect in the workplace? What advice do you give when someone needs to move on because of a lack of respect?
Join the Conversation
Can You Stay in a Workplace Without Respect?
It’s possible, but it is difficult. I have to deal with it all the time, not from my boss; but my co-workers. I work and hustle every day and I hardly ever get positive feedback or even a thank you for a job well done instead I get nothing or get blown off. This makes me angry and I work even harder to prove my point. I feel like I’m worthless many times to my co-workers. They never ask me if I want anything to eat when they leave for lunch or thank me for anything else. All I want is positive feedback and respect from my co-workers. It drives me to work extremely hard every day and sometimes I kill myself in doing so. I have shown them respect early on by thanking them and asking them if they want anything, but I can’t understand why they don’t return the same favor. This concept really puzzles me. I will not change how fast I work, but I do admit I work angrily on many occasions. I want to be know as the hardest worker on the team with tremendous intensity, but I don’t want them to think that I am angry. I want respect over everything else!!!
Wow your article brought back a few memories Jon. I worked for this one company – loved the job and the people; the owners were demanding but they were based in another country so the situation was manageable. Then, my boss (the general manager, my friend and the one who’d hired me) quit and the new guy they hired was a jerk and a screamer and he didn’t care who was around when he reamed someone. Seriously, I’ve never seen anyone show such disrespect for his staff. He never yelled at me, but the whole culture of the business became so stressful I finally couldn’t take it anymore and gave a 3 week notice. He blew up and said if I didn’t want to work for him, he wanted me o-u-t, and had me escorted out of the building like I had been caught stealing. Fast forward, when the owners found out what he’d done they literally freaked. I started getting calls from the home office and the company CEO flew in, canned the guy on the spot and had him escorted out of the building exactly the same way he’d done to me. They spent the next year trying to talk me into returning, but I refused. What a drama!
Wow again for the experience you had and the story you shared! It is so unfortunate when those things happen; it just seems that by now, in our society, the basics of respect would be universal. This is exactly why we need the financial foundation in place to be able to walk out of uncomfortable, disrespectful situations. Thank you for sharing this, Marquita!
Extremely tough to work with self-integrity if the people and environment chips away at our self-respect every time we walk in the door… Yes, we work for money, but most employee surveys say that respect/recognition is valued much higher than money.
Agreed, Kumud. Respect carries a higher value and we just need to create a culture that values respect. Thanks for jumping in. Jon
Great thoughts here Jon, both in your article and the comments shared. I especially appreciate the nuances of respect you offer – a good reminder that we can disagree with someone’s actions or outcomes but still say so with respect. Those differing opinions and approaches are needed but a person’s dignity must always remain at the forefront. Thank you for an insightful look at an important element of work – and life!
Thank you, Dr. Hegstad, for adding your insights to the conversation! I completely agree. No matter how big the disagreements or wide the differences in opinions, keeping everyone’s dignity in the process and in the conversations is a must. Your thoughts are very much appreciated. Thank you! Jon
Respect is definitely a prerequisite in the workplace, Jon. Great points made, mate!
In my past experiences, there were people who held a leadership role who thought just because they held a title, that automatically rendered them to be respected. While I certainly believe in giving honor where it is due, I will only render such honor and respect when an individual’s actions have conveyed they are deserving of it. The same goes for fellow employees. I will respect others (period). They do not have to earn it. However, I will also refrain from respecting them, if they disrespect me or others. Respect is much like trust in my book. I give them to all freely, but it’s not without the expectation that the individual will do the same.
If individuals aren’t able, capable, or willing to render me with what I offer, I have no problem moving on to someone or another company that will deliver it.
Respect needs to be mutual, no doubt. And, if it isn’t there, then we need to be ready to move on. Thanks for sharing your added insights to this conversation, Deone. Great adds! Jon
Jon, very well structured and presented advice for professionals at any stage in their career. The balance between enduring bad treatment and needing financial stability is a delicate one.
Beyond your very sound advice in this piece, if I were to add one piece of advice for someone who’s early in their career on this topic, I’d ask them to honestly reflect on how they present themselves and their work. How others treat us is a (sometimes unconscious) reflection of how we present ourselves, and what we believe we deserve. For a young professional, it’d be important to reflect on what they consider respect and whether they carry themselves with the confidence and objective record to command that respect. If they find themselves seemingly being singled out in not being treated with respect, that should be a potential indicator to assess whether there’s a disconnect between this person’s expectations and the org’s. This examination would help to prevent recreating a similar lack of respect scenario in future employment–as this young person would become aware of what may need to shift within him-/herself.
Thanks again, Jon, for this very well thought out and written piece for serving professionals in potential transition!
You have several very key, valid points, Alice. We do need to have those self-reflection moments to ensure we are presenting ourselves in the best way. It is about self-accountability and self-growth. And, we do not want to be in a job-hopping mode. We need to determine the cause and make the correction so as to not end up in a continuous loop of changing jobs.
Anyway, love the points you added! Thanks. Jon
Great Post! I have been working in a respect-less environment for years, but I finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. . . . .quitting. After reading this post I have been rewarded with my own support in the decision. Thanks for the insightful thoughts.
Thank you, Josh, for sharing your experience. I also like your leadership blog topics…. look forward to further exchanges. Thank you. Jon
You shared some great insights about what happens when an employee perceives lack of respect. What you wrote about is what happens in companies. However, I’ve never really read about it until I saw this post. The quote by Dr. Marla Gottschalk was brilliant.
I’d like to share my own experiences and I must stress this is only my own belief and might not be suitable for others. I’ve been an employee in companies and I’ve lost my job to redundancies. Although, I know that these decisions were based on a business issues, a part of become fed up with it all. I made a conscious decision that I would create other revenue streams through entrepreneurial activities so that I would never depend on just one employer. I’m currently on this journey.
Hiten, I appreciate you sharing your story. In today’s world, it is somewhat easier to create those added revenue streams, which help build that financial foundation to find places where respect thrives. Best wishes in your journey. I know you are off to a great start! Jon
Appreciate this post, Jon. I was working with a friend a few years ago and we both had some big promises made as we agreed to transition into new positions to lead a new division. Left and right my friend was met with disrespect for his work, experience, effort, ideas on and on. He quit at the height of the recession without another job in place because the pain he was facing each week (getting on the airplane) to go to work was greater than the financial pain he went through while on the job market for several months.
It is such a challenging time when these situations happen, Alli. As you highlight, it is the pain at work and then there is the pain in finding a new opportunity. It is so challenging to get the financial safety net in place yet it is necessary to give us that ability to navigate these time a little easier. Thanks for sharing this story. Jon
Jon — This is a little developed area and you are giving it some structure and scale. People do get caught up in the question, should I quit? and the hesitations around it that they can lose themselves, neither going forward definitively or truly accepting their situation. This can create emotional alienation both outside in circumstances and inside in one’s own emotions and sense of self-determination. By breaking down the question, you offer a pathway to avoid that alienation (and often victimization, too) and get much cleaner and more certain of the choices. Nice work!
Thank you, Dan. It is draining times when respect evaporates. There aren’t any easy answers so we need a financial and community foundation to enable us to move ahead. A strong community is a way to stave off some of the alienation feelings, too. Thank you for your insights on this topic. Jon