Respect at work

What “Respect” Actually Means at Work

The meaning of the word “respect” may seem clear enough. However, in practice, the word may mean very different things to different people.

Part of the important work of building a workplace culture is getting explicit about which values are the most important to your company, and defining what those values look like in action.

At The Receptionist for iPad, we believe that being Respectful is important enough to our culture that we don’t want there to be any ambiguity about what it means to us.

Here are some of the very specific ways we respect each other and our customers.

Respect from managers

Here are a few of the ways that our leadership team shows that they respect the people who they bring on board at The Receptionist.

  • We hire slowly, and we look for empathetic people. We all know that working with someone who is rude, unkind, or simply lacks “people skills” can make you dread coming into work. On the other hand, working with people whose company you enjoy can turn even a mediocre job into an amazing experience. We respect all of our colleagues enough to vet any new hire thoroughly. We even bring them in to meet everyone they’ll be working with. It’s a really thorough process, but we respect the people we’ve already hired too much to risk corrupting their work environment by hiring someone who doesn’t have a high degree of social skill and empathy.
  • We trust employees to get things done on their terms and time. There’s no micromanaging here. We develop big goals together as a team, and we respect our employees enough to give them the flexibility to meet those goals on their own terms. For us, that means allowing our employees to work from home and for the most part, on their own schedule. (This was standard practice even before the pandemic forced many businesses to go remote.) For more on how we approach work from home at The Receptionist, check out our podcast on the topic.
  • We show our respect in the form of value-aligned benefits. We are willing to formalize our commitment to our values by giving all hires benefits that are aligned with those values. For example, at The Receptionist, we offer our employees unlimited paid time off. That could sound scary to some business owners, but this policy has never been abused because we hire individuals who are aligned with our core values and who want to be at work. For more on our employee benefits, listen to our podcast on the topic.

Respect for our colleagues

Respect is a foundational part of the day-to-day work relationships between colleagues. Here are a few of the ways we regularly show each other respect.

  • We trust that our colleagues have good intentions – Another one of our core values at The Receptionist is authenticity. The only way to get the best ideas on the table is to create an environment where people can speak freely in meetings, even if their opinion is unpopular or clashes with someone else’s. When people are passionate about their work, they’re going to have occasional disagreements. That’s why we have a policy that we always assume positive intentions from one another. We respect each other enough to assume that our colleagues don’t speak up with the intent to insult or harm other people, but with the intent to be authentic and advocate for what’s best for the customer.
  • We show appreciation for the work of people in different roles. In some companies, employees from different departments seem to be working at odds with one another. Resentment may build between employees from sales and marketing, for example, as they work toward their own independent departmental goals. At The Receptionist, we set goals that require departments to work together to meet them. Closer working relationships and a shared vision of success pave the way for respectful relationships instead of resentful ones.
  • We respect people’s time by keeping meetings efficient. One of the simplest ways we can show each other that we respect one another is to limit demands on one another’s time. When we truly appreciate how important everyone’s work is and empathize with the challenges they’re facing, limiting meetings and keeping them efficient comes naturally. For more on efficient meetings, check out the full blog post on the topic here: Best Practices for Efficient Meetings

Respect for our customers

Respect may be a workplace value, but that sense of respect extends outside of our workplace to our customers and our partners, as well. Here are a few ways we show that respect.

We empathize with our customers’ needs. Just as we empathize with each other and understand that we’re all doing important work, we empathize with our customers. We understand that when they reach out, they may be feeling a lot of pressure. They need our program to work properly in order to get their jobs done. So, just as we do with each other, we assume the best intentions from their feedback. We view it as the personal responsibility of each team member to help them succeed and make their lives easier.

We explain the “why” behind our decisions. We respect our customers enough to let them know why our product works the way it does. Sometimes, when customers understand why we’ve opted not to add a certain feature or have taken the software in a certain direction, they actually get more value out of the product. Plus, letting our customers in on our decision-making process also shows them that they play an important role in helping guide our process, and encourages them to give us more helpful feedback in the future.

We take customer requests seriously. We show our customers that we respect them by personally responding to feature requests and following up on them, even if it’s months later. We use a system to make sure these responses happen consistently. For more on our process, check out this post: How to Handle Your SaaS Company’s Feature Requests. Our president even responds to many customer reviews personally and encourages customers to contact him directly.

The bottom line: Respect requires more than lip service

Many companies list “respect” as a corporate value. It features prominently in mission statements and vision statements. But if the value of respect isn’t acted out in tangible ways, starting at the top of the company, employees won’t truly embrace it. And it won’t go on to improve your workplace or your customer service.

Many companies list “respect” as a corporate value. But if respect isn’t acted out in tangible ways, starting at the top of the company, employees won’t embrace it. Click To Tweet

As you may know, at The Receptionist, we have coined the term FABRIC to summarize our values: Fun, Authentic, Bold, Respectful, Innovative, and Collaborative.

On the FABRIC Podcast, we explore what it takes to create a healthy, vibrant company culture at scale. We want to uncover unique and uncommon answers to the question: How do companies of any size create a culture and core values that employees actually live out? Check out the full list of episodes here.

And if you’re interested in joining a team where you can do your best work among great people, check out our Careers page.

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