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Effective Work Teams Place a Strong Emphasis on Dignity & Respect

Maybe this sounds basic at first glance. So let's break it down. Work teams / place a / strong emphasis on/ dignity / and respect.   

61 - handshake.pngNot individuals, but teams. Not hope it happens, but place it intentionally. Not mild interest. but strong emphasis. On both (not either/or) dignity and respect. Here's why this matters. 
All too often, teams get divided or polarized. They become mired in finger-pointing or turf wars. Factions work to undermine each other. Trust deteriorates. Nothing gets done. 

This happens because it's difficult to work with other people, especially when their work has a direct impact on your work. All sorts of self-interests get in the way of focusing more fully on the good of the team.

Most team breakdowns can be traced to a real or perceived lack of respect or to some indignity. Consider these examples:

  • One team member takes great pains to write out detailed instructions on the processes and procedures for shared work. Another team member says she doesn't have time to read the instructions and proceeds in her own fashion, wreaking havoc on systems that affect others.  
  • Two team members prefer to process new ideas before offering input. But the rest ofPicture1-3.png the group moves quickly and doesn't wait for these two to formulate their thoughts and express them. Instead they move from idea to decision very quickly. 
  • Long-term team members feel protective of workplace culture and legacy systems. They scoff at innovations suggested by newer team members. They often digress into storytelling about the "good ole days" and have a lot of inside jokes the newer team members aren't privy to. 

The three examples share one thing in common. Both sides of each issue feel slighted and disrespected. The indignity depends on which way you look at the situation. 

When work teams place a strong emphasis on dignity, people feel important, worthy and honored

Team members who feel important and worthy behave differently than those who feel marginalized or unimportant. 

Simple acts convey honor and dignify people. Listening with genuine interest, seeking input and seeking to understand it, and considering ideas offered are among some of the most 50 - listening 2.pngpowerful and basic ways to dignify others. 

Dignifying others helps them to feel important and valued. Feeling this way at work leads people to be more engaged. Engaged employees apply additional discretionary effort to the work they do.

This isn't up to the team leader alone. Every member of the team can (and should) do this for every other member of the team. 

But it takes deliberate focus to overcome individual impulses for expedience or self-interests. With practice, anyone can develop an other-orientation. When teams commit to doing this with and for each other, trust and effectiveness are the natural outcomes. 

When work teams place a strong emphasis on respect, people feel esteemed and appreciate the consideration


Team members who share mutual respect are reciprocating respect to each other. In other words, it starts somewhere. One team member shows respect to another. The person who feels respected appreciates that consideration and esteem, so they return that respect. 

Respect is contagious. A respectful person gets respect. Team members who make a habit of respecting each other find it easier to get shared work done.

Like dignity, respect won't always come automatically. We don't easily accept challenges to our way of thinking. It's much easier to harshly judge others who approach things 113 - bow.pngdifferently. It takes intentional effort to show esteem others for their ideas even if you don't agree with them. 

Teams can't function well if team members are inconsiderate in the way they interact or in the way they hand off work. That's why the whole team must place a strong emphasis on deliberately working on respect. 

To develop a shared commitment to dignity and respect, teams often find it's useful to start by understanding and appreciating the differences and unique attributes of each team member. The Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one tool that helps bring teams together in this way. In the hands of a certified practitioner and gifted facilitator, it can heal past misunderstandings and restore feelings of dignity and respect to everyone on the team. With this foundation, teams operate on a whole new level. 


Effective work teams place a strong emphasis on dignity and respect... Do you? Next steps for getting there:

  1. Read examples and stories about other effective teams for inspiration and ideas. 30 guest contributors from around the world are featured in this eBook.
  2. Download one of our popular infographics for teams. Decision-making for teams provides a step-by-step approach for collaborative decision-making. New Call-to-action
  3. Book a PFPS facilitator today to facilitate critical team meetings, to speak at your leadership or team events, to conduct customized retreats or workshops to improve your team’s effectiveness.

CONNECT2Win is the blog for everyone who works with anyone. Published weekly, the emphasis in 2017 is on the basics of team effectiveness for team leaders and all team members who want to contribute at a higher level.

Deb Calvert is President of People First Productivity Solutions, the company that’s been building organizational strength by putting people first since 2006.  Deb’s fortune 500 background in Human Resources, Sales and Operations gives her a unique perspective on working with cross-functional teams. She is a certified Executive Coach, MBTI practitioner, Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®, bestselling author, instructional designer and gifted facilitator.



Topics: dignity, respect, Respecting Others, teamwork, team work, team effectivness, team member, team player


Deb's new book is a behavioral blueprint for success. It shows that tactics of highly effective sellers are also those of highly effective leaders -- and team players.

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