Last week I was at the Lean Agile Scotland Conference 2012. Liz Keogh @lunivore gave an excellent keynote on respect, as in respect for your co-workers, which she defined (from the Latin) as re-spectare or look again.
She gave an example of a woman who weighed 20 stone and said “people look at me and see a fat woman. They don’t see that 2 years ago I was 28 stone and have worked really hard to lose 1/3 of my body weight.” That extra information makes you look again at your assumptions.
As Liz said, everyone knows what respect isn’t – she gave plenty of examples such as expecting people to work weekends, telling people what to do, annual performance appraisals linked to compensation, effort estimates (which, as she said, might otherwise be known as “lies”). She also showed how many Agile practices can be dis-respectful if poorly applied – for example, The Planning Game.
Without wanting to spoil her punch-line or stories, what respect boils down to is allowing people choice rather than telling them what to do/hear. Even if the choice they make ends up being the same one you might have told them to do, if it’s their decision they will be motivated and engaged. This fits with Bill McCarley’s The Responsibility Process™ as taught by Christopher Avery. If you do something in Obligation, you won’t give your all. Only once you move past Obligation to Responsibility are you inspired and empowered to do a great job.
The recording will be online at some point, and I suggest you watch it. It will give you a whole new perspective on your interactions.