What Brexit can teach us about dignity and respect

Brexit has taken up a lot of our time, energy and certainly news space over the past two weeks. Whichever way you voted, the action that has followed in the wake of the historic referendum has all the hallmarks of the most dramatic of soap operas.

But among all of the resignations, speeches, protests and political manoeuvrings was a very interesting piece of information that came out the analysis of why some people voted Leave – that the highest percentage of Leave voters came from areas that received the largest EU grants.

At first glance this does not seem to make sense. Why would people vote against the institution that was actually funding regeneration initiatives in their own locality? Then I came across an article written by Will Davies from Political Economy Research Centre at Goldsmiths College, University of London and things began to make sense. Davies states that handouts do not create gratitude and that people did not want years of regeneration grants. What they want is dignity and respect.

The psychological need for dignity and respect is fundamental and is often valued over and above economic security. Think for a moment. Have you ever been in a situation, or had a friend in a situation, where you felt so disrespected by a place of work that you were seriously tempted to hand in your notice even though you did not yet have another job? Maybe you even know people who did actually resign, walk off, without the safety net of another post.

And there is a lesson here for us as managers. Money does not create loyalty or gratitude. But giving staff dignity and respect in their work will.

Don’t blame yourself for mistakenly believing that money is the main motivator – after all people keep asking for it. But think carefully. Often we don’t have the permission, or even the language, to ask for more dignity and respect but we are ‘allowed’ to request a pay rise, which can be a token of the value in which we’re held. However, there are many other, free, ways to provide staff with dignity and respect:

  • The first is to genuinely like, admire and value individuals on your team and recognise them for their unique strengths and talents.
  • The second is to speak to them as the adults they are, and are certainly capable of being. That means sharing bad news, giving them the information they need to recognise the urgency of a particular situation, trusting them to provide ideas on how to solve it.
  • The third is to listen openly to their concerns, issues and ideas and to respond honestly. If you do not agree with an idea, explain why, remaining at all times open to more dialogue.
  • The fourth? To say thank you – and mean it, sincerely.

Dignity and respect. If we all shared it and received it, what could we achieve together?

To find out how Converse Well can help you turn difficult feedback situations into opportunities to motivate and engage your staff, call 020 8870 9036 or 07734 944 515 or email hello@conversewell.com