It’s a pretty simple equation: respect = collaboration. And without collaboration success is nigh impossible. But with all their talk of respect, compassion, egalitarianism, etc. in the workspace, many companies still struggle to walk the talk. And they fail as a result. Which is hilarious (and ironic, and contradictory–I LOVE $5 words), because a lack of tolerance for failure in the process or, especially, in the person, creates conditions for failure. If we don’t respect failure then we usually don’t respect the one who failed. And then fingers get pointed while nothing changes.
The problem is this: Failure is okay (in fact, it’s absolutely fundamental to suceess), as long as we learn from it, but repeating failures is–as a gritty, old-school talent director told me–the definition of insanity.
The problem is twofold:
1. It indicates a lack of leadership. Respect is fostered by leaders who set the example and who are not afraid to discipline (gasp! not that!) staff who don’t play nicely in the sandbox. Think Zach DeLaRocha and RATM. They worked magic for a while but there was no one to keep Zach’s ego in check. The result? A dead band, a dead solo career, and Chris Cornell nailing the lid shut with his vocal hammer of death.
2. Secondary to and resultant from poor leadership is a wholly inadequate selection process that ends in the choice of the wrong candidate: we’re looking for the Beatles but we end up with the Butthole Surfers. Totally wrong. Disturbingly wrong. Without the right team–one whose members can practice the core value of respect and thus collaborate–consistent, continuous, disheartening failures will be the hallmark of the team.
“And once again I’d like to present the Dysfunction Award to the Butthole Surfers! They managed to accomplish NOTHING last quarter. Which made the rest if us look like geniuses. Give ’em a hand!”
The solution can be driven by process change, by leadership change, or by a simultaneous movement of both, but it must be holistically driven (that is to say actively accepted and developed by employees across the workspace spectrum, from janitor to CEO), it must have simple, achievable, yet agressive goals, it must be well-planned and structured, and, perhaps most importantly, it must respect failure. Without the acceptance of fallibilty in the procees or the person, respect is impossible. And since the whole point of this post is that we need to select for respect and respectfully manage, well, then just stop reading.