Teams are everywhere. Recently I sat in a team meeting to plan and establish a new program. This particular team is democratic; there is no leader. As we started to look forward at how to proceed, one person presented a detailed plan. The rest sat there quietly. Perhaps some of them, like me, were still digesting the information and collecting their thoughts when we ran out of time. We’re still trying to sort out the details.
Have you ever been on a project team that was governed by the entire group instead of one person? Leaderless teams challenge everyone to be civil and respectful to meet their goals.
Regular teams also rely on civility and respect.
What Role Does Respect Play?
Everyone wants to feel they matter. They want to know they add value to the team. Usurping their power, ignoring them, talking down to them and other acts that a person perceives as dismissive or derogatory, or otherwise make them feel “less than”, put the person in a defensive mode. This detracts from their engagement and the quality of their work. This applies to everyone, not “just” the perceived leaders or stars.
Teams rely on the full engagement of every member to succeed. When team members don’t feel respected or valued, they focus on protecting their identity and self, taking energy off the team. Seldom do they then give the work their best efforts. This also often results in delays and other habits detrimental to the work.
Show Respect In Teams
You probably know how to show respect for individuals in other settings. Those strategies apply to teams as well. Some tactics are especially effective in showing respect within teams:
- Encourage everyone to speak up. People who sit on the side without contributing to conversations can easily disengage. Ask for their opinions, ideas and insights.
- Let people know how their work contributes to the success of the team. If the work were not important, you wouldn’t waste time doing it.
- Similarly, let them know others are counting on them. One missed piece can derail a project.
- Remind everyone that the voices of many are more powerful than the voice of one. When people brainstorm together, they have the potential to generate bigger and better ideas than an isolated individual.
- If you see someone lagging or struggling, reach back and help them. The individual benefits and so does the team. When doing this be careful not to make the person feel inadequate; it is better to ask someone if they are overburdened than overwhelmed,
- Celebrate successes and accomplishments by acknowledging the contributions of all of them.
Civility and respect affect every area of life, including teams. The more important the transaction, the more important it is to be respectful. Modeling respect and civility benefits you and those with whom you associate. It is a winning strategy.