Even as an outsider, you can learn a lot about an organization when you simply engage in normal conversations with employees and listen. Recently, I was quite surprised by what I heard in some conversations. The lack of respect co-workers had for each other was quite scary. Does the lack of co-worker respect drive employees from organizations?
Comment One: On a Sinking Ship
“I would do anything for the patients and not so much for my co-workers.” Facilities management employee in a discussion with me.
This discussion took place in a healthcare setting. It was clear in talking with this employee that she cared about her patients. No doubt. In watching her support role, this was evident. What was also evident? She felt like her co-workers did not have her back nor did they work together as a team to provide the best service for the patients. This employee was left feeling frustrated and over-worked.
Comment Two: The Hierarchy Wins
“Don’t get that for him (the patient). That’s the nurse’s job.” Overheard by me from a nurse practitioner for a doctor with impressive credentials to another doctor trying to help a patient in discomfort.
Coincidentally, another healthcare setting discussion. In this case, the doctor who was trying to help became insecure about what she should do when the overbearing nurse practitioner called her out. The patient had to wait extra time before his discomfort was improved. Luckily, this was not a life-threatening situation. This conversation snapshot illustrates a moment when one employee was trying to do the right thing (because she was less busy than another employee) and was called out in front of her peers and customer.
Comment Three: It’s Easier to Go Negative
“Thank you for the tip and the compliment. I try to work hard and serve the customer. Now, this other lady who works out here in the dining room is lazy. And she is not nice to the customers.” In a discussion with me and another person after giving a dining room attendant in a fast-casual restaurant a tip.
I refer to this one as the “floodgates opened and the bus did not stop moving.” This conversation was interesting because the employee knew she did a good job, but felt like others on her team were bringing down her performance. This employee was so upset about we tried to reel her back in to the positive that she was doing.
Employee Turnover Implications
Many data studies show the number one reason employees leave organizations is due to poor management. I would further add that lack of co-worker respect erodes the meaningfulness and value of the workplace causing employees to disengage and seek employment elsewhere. When negativity surrounds an employee at work, the combination of co-worker disregard and manager issues drives employees out the door faster.
Alas, all is not lost for respect in the workplace. Stay tuned for my next blog how one employee’s dedication to his work, team, and the customer and his employer’s commitment to its values helped foster a customer and work environment of support and respect.