I started this series positing that respect is the cornerstone for how we might treat each other, to manage our interactions with success, especially in light of the #MeToo conversation. The series so far is:
- Organizations Are Not Families, Part 1. Why the metaphor of family-as-org demeans the people working there.
- Build Respect in Organizations, Not Families, Part 2, had some ideas for building respect in terms of physical and psychological safety.
This post is about belonging and how we treat people as the social humans we are.
Respect for people as human beings, management interactions
Here are some ways I like to reinforce the idea that we work with humans:
- Never ask people to work overtime or postpone a vacation so they can work instead. Overtime is not useful because the more tired we get, the worse job we do. One of my managers asked me to postpone a vacation for one week because the product would “surely” be ready the week I was planning to go. I asked him how sure he was. He said, “80-90%.” I told him that unless he was willing to reimburse me my entire vacation money and spend the money for me to rebook without my friends, I was not going to change my vacation. I took my vacation. (It took another month for the software to be ready.)
- Never refer to a human as a resource. “Resource” is a mechanistic term. When we use mechanistic terms to discuss people, we no longer think of them as human. I can't think of a more disrespectful approach. I've written about this in the past, People Are Not Resources. In addition, see the flow efficiency series.
- Never refer to a person or people as an FTE (Full Time Equivalent). FTE, especially when we refer to two part-time people as one “equivalent,” is a mechanistic view of the “how do we add all the salaries together” problem as opposed to “how do we create great working relationships among the team and with management when people are not full time” problem. See how these two problems are different. (You might like People are NOT FTEs.)
- Treat each person as an individual and according to how they like to be treated, assuming I can still fulfill my work obligations. Here's one small example: Although I insist on weekly or biweekly one-on-ones (depending on the person and circumstance), I work with people to find the right time for them to meet with me. It would be a lot more convenient if I could specify the time. But, some people know they will be in deep focus time when it's convenient for me. They set the time. Once we know how to work together, they often set the agenda for our one-on-one. (I do this in agile organizations as a matter of course.)
Let me repeat: I do not get this right all the time. Sometimes, my mistakes are so big that people laugh at me. Sometimes, I hurt people through my inadequacies. (See Ever Have a Bad Management Day?)
The next part is how the organization can show respect in hiring, career ladders, and more.