264: Respect In The Workplace, With Dr. Paul Marciano

May 30, 2023

Read Transcript

Dr. Pelè [00:00:00]:

Hello, happy people. Welcome to the Profitable Happiness Podcast. Hello, everyone. This is Dr. Pelè with the profitable Happiness podcast. And I am so happy to introduce to you today Dr. Paul, who is known as the Respect Doctor. He is an author of multiple books. Some of my favorites, like carrots and sticks, don't work. Super teams. He also has a podcast that he's working on called let's Talk About It. Dr. Paul, I am so happy to have you here. Teach us a little bit about respect. How are you today?

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:00:36]:

Good. I'm happy to be on with you. Thanks for inviting me.

Dr. Pelè [00:00:40]:

Oh, absolutely. And as I mentioned to you earlier, the way I find my authors and the people I speak with is I Google it. I find people who are the best in their field who Google or Chat GPT recommends as the person to talk to. And you, sir, came up, so I'm so happy that you said yes. And it's a pleasure to meet you.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:01:02]:

Absolutely. And I think that Google thing is really going to catch on, by the way.

Dr. Pelè [00:01:05]:

I think it's going to catch up too. So, Dr. Paul, let's get started with the concept of first things first, right? Like, what exactly is the challenge that your work addresses in organizations? You've written some really fantastic books. Tell us a little bit about how or what you are addressing when you talk to companies.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:01:27]:

I think when you look at companies and their core values, respect may be the most common one. And yet we know that lots of folks don't feel respected and it's the number one reason that they disengage. And what disengage looks like ultimately, is quitting. And so for me, it's about fostering a respectful workplace culture that starts with those one on one respectful relationships manager to direct report in particular. So while, again, most companies preach this idea of a respectful workplace environment, which leads to psychological safety and all kinds of good stuff, it's not an aspect that's often lived as well as it should be. And so I try to bring that into life and really make that part of the culture.

Dr. Pelè [00:02:20]:

Wow, that's very interesting. I have to say, respect is not one of the things that people talk about a lot, especially with respect to employee engagement and things like that. And yet I can see exactly how the science and the research and the things you've looked at makes that relevance to engagement. Maybe if you could define for us what the literature or the science says respect really is, because I bet you people might be like, well, here's what I think respect is. But what is it really?

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:02:49]:

Well, I'll ask a question maybe your audience can sort of play along with this is I found respect matters. And respect matters for a number of different reasons. And it matters no matter where you are, who you are, what gender you are, what color your skin it matters. It matters in the animal kingdom. So the question is, why do we care so much about respect? And I think the answer to that is because it means that we're valued by our tribe. And when we're valued, from an evolutionary perspective, we're protected in a business environment. People who are valued don't get fired. Their opinions are listened to, they're heard. Now, when you're disrespected, right, you're not valued, you become much more susceptible to being fired, to being let go. So that's at some of the core of the work.

Dr. Pelè [00:03:51]:

Interesting. I think it's almost like a proxy for things like employee success or business success, even.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:04:02]:

Yeah. And, you know, when Maslow's hierarchy and I know you have a hierarchy for yourself, for your model, feeling respected is kind of an up there thing. It's on the fourth level. I think feeling respected is really very baseline. I think it's very fundamental to our well being. It's really around safety when we feel respected.

Dr. Pelè [00:04:28]:

Awful stuff. We were talking earlier also about your background, and I wonder if you could share just a little bit about how you became Dr Paul. How did you find your road to respect as this core topic that is so important for organizations?

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:04:45]:

Well, if you don't mind, I'll take a quick minute about me, because this matters. So I was born and raised on 100 acre horse farm here in central New Jersey, in the one bridge town of Three Bridges, New Jersey, to a first generation Italian American father who taught us that if you want to eat seven days a week, then you work seven days a week. And I think I was taught, as I think most people were at a very young age, the importance of respect, the value of respect, our elders, our teachers, our people in the ministry and first responders. So how I got into the idea of respect was, I think, the very early age, it was ingrained in me that it was important. And how I became to focus on it professionally was my dissertation was really about motivation. And in 2000, I was asked to speak at a conference regarding motivating employees in the 21st century. And I know you come from an academic background, so I put together this wonderful presentation with every motivational model there is, and I stepped back and I said, if I present this, everybody's going to fall asleep. And two, they're not going to leave with anything really tangible. So I just began drawing arrows and I said, what's fundamental? And I came down to this idea of respect, and then it transitioned the relationship between engagement and respect. And so what I did was name all my company is actually Whiteboard. I love whiteboards. Put all the models up and started drawing arrows and crossing things out and just fundamentally distilled it down to this idea that the extent to which people feel respected. And I changed it from motivation to engagement determines their level of engagement in the organization?

Dr. Pelè [00:06:43]:

Well, I can tell you from both experience and actually studying a lot of things around engagement, you're spot on. And I think it's a gold nugget that you have there because can anyone imagine being feeling disrespected and still feeling engaged and happy and ready to work? No. Right.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:07:08]:

I apologize for cutting off. I'll ask people a little exercise and maybe the folks that are listening watching this can play along. So I'll ask people to think about a time in their life when they really respected the organization that they worked for. So write those down and then write down the names of the managers and the leaders that you very much respected. You viewed them as people that were there to help you and develop you and encourage you and give you a kick in the butt when you needed it. And then times when you really respected your fellow team members so everybody was pulling together right on the same page and had each other's backs. A time when you really respected the work that you did, you found value and meaning in it. And then a time when you felt respected as an individual within the organization, as somebody who was viewed as having value. And then I'll ask people, did you ever have a position, a moment in time for which all of those were simultaneously true? And in an audience of, let's say, 100 people, only two or three will raise their hand, they'll have a smile on their face and I'll say, what was it like for you to go to work? And they would say, I loved it. I said, does it have anything to do with money? They go no. And I ask people then to consider the last time they left a job and wondered if it had anything to do with feeling of a loss of respect. And they will often say yes. So it's really even though we may not think about it often, I do think it boils down this idea. When we feel respect and when we feel valued, we engage, and when we don't, we disengage.

Dr. Pelè [00:08:40]:

Powerful stuff. So, Dr. Paul, we've identified the challenge and of course, how you have come to be the respect doctor, as you say. I wonder if you could maybe walk us through the books you've written, almost like a chronology of the discoveries and the things that kind of brought you here. Give us a sense of how you solved those problems and how your books have contributed to the sort of thought leadership that you bring to the table.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:09:10]:

Got you. And you said we had 3 hours, right?

Dr. Pelè [00:09:13]:

Yeah, I know. This is one to ask you to no, it's easy.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:09:18]:

Listen, trust me. It's easy to summarize everything I know in ten or 15 minutes. Trust me. Well, let me just boil down carrots and sticks don't work. And so the title of the book really talks about how traditional motivational strategies are approached by the carrot. So here's the raise or here's the parking spot for the best employee, right? Or the award on the wall. And what I can tell you from the research is not only are traditional reward and recognition programs ineffective, they actually lead to an overall decrease in the morale and productivity of an organization. And that's really well founded. And so again, building. And there's lots and lots of reasons if you want to buy the book. They're all in there. So for me, again, coming around to this idea of respect being so foundational, I then ask myself the question, what leads people to feeling respected? What are the drivers? So the R stands for recognition. So people fundamentally want to be recognized and acknowledged for their contributions. And we know what it's like when we don't get recognized for what we do. The E is for empowering people, so giving people the tools and the resources they really need to be successful. We fail most at this when we promote people into first time supervisory roles. We do that often because they've got tenure, because they have good work ethic. They're really good at turning the wrench, not because they're going to be successful at building teams and delegating and coaching and mentoring. The S is for supportive feedback, so giving ongoing coaching and mentoring to individuals. The P is for partnering, so developing those collaborative working relationships beginning with one on one and then within a team and then across teams in the organization. The second E is for setting clear expectations and holding people accountable to those. The C is for consideration. So just demonstrating fundamental human consideration toward one another. One of my favorite quotes is people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. John Maxwell and then the T is for trust. So fostering a trustful and being a trustworthy individual environment. And trust is really like respect. It's just so fundamental. And once it's broken, it's like a porcelain piggy bank. It's really hard to put back together again. And it's really never the same.

Dr. Pelè [00:12:05]:

First of all, love your list here. This is more than a list. It's a course. This is like a university training course. You could teach this. I love this so much. There's something you said earlier, though, that I want to maybe go back to and then bring one of these to the fore with the question. And that is, you said that traditional sort of carrot and sticks. That doesn't work. The model of I'm going to give you a reward if you do this well, and I'm going to punish you if you don't do this well. Right?

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:12:37]:


Dr. Pelè [00:12:37]:

That doesn't work very well. And it's well proven. You talk about recognition. That's the one I want to bring to the fore. You talk about recognition as a way to do this versus one of your several ways as a way to do this versus the traditional model. Can you contrast recognition what is it? And contrast it with the older model and let's kind of have that conversation a little bit.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:13:00]:

So a traditional reward and recognition program would be a very public acknowledgment that probably happens on a semiannual or quarterly or yearly kind of basis where it's, hey, you did a great thing and you were the best person. And I love when I go into a store and it says employee of the month. If we were really being honest, it would probably be the same employee every month. And so I remember working with a manager and he said, literally said to his team, all right, it's time to give the employee of the month, who hasn't gotten it yet. It becomes meaningless in some ways, like giving a trophy to everybody becomes meaningless. At the core of the respect model and recognizing acknowledging people is looking people in the hand, shaking their eyes and say, dr. Pale, thank you for what you did for our customers. It made a difference. Thank you for the support you gave another team member. I'll ask people, has anyone ever gotten a little yellow sticky note you got back to your desk, yellow sticky note from your boss that said, hey, great job. Appreciate you. And then I'll say, all right, what'd you do with it? And 99.9% will say, I kept it. And then I go, yeah, you put it on the bottom of your monitor and it fell off, and you put a piece of tape on it, and you kept it in your visual field as a reminder that at some moment in time you did something worthy of your manager taking 2 seconds. It cost nothing. Say hey. Thanks. And it's sad people don't frame their paychecks, but it's sad how little recognition and acknowledgment that we get in the world and what a difference it can make. And by the way, every single day you have the opportunity to show that level of acknowledgment, whether it's the person who's serving you the coffee or whether it's a police officer standing on the street.

Dr. Pelè [00:14:52]:

Interesting how some of the best things in life are free, right? I do want to highlight something you said, because I just love your quotes. You said, people don't frame their paychecks. Dude, I love that. That is the respect doctor talking. Thank you for that. And with your permission, I'm going to share that. I'll give credit to you, but I'm going to share that I love that so much. Here's another thing you said, which I'm not going to share, but I just thought it was very clever. You said looking people in the hand and shaking their eyes.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:15:23]:

I did?

Dr. Pelè [00:15:24]:

Yes, you did.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:15:25]:

Beautiful. That's really important. Make sure to quote that. Here is a quote, though, you can use, and that is you'll never get the behavior that you want by paying attention to the behavior that you don't want. So it doesn't matter if it's your coworker, your spouse, your dog, your kid. You'll never get the behavior that you want by focusing on the behavior that you don't want. And that's what happens a lot in organizations in our home. So we're seeing employee don't do that. That doesn't get you what you're looking for.

Dr. Pelè [00:15:59]:

I have to tell you that I am always fascinated by just the human condition, the paradox of being human, where, I mean, how is it that our brains are wired this way? So that exactly what you said is the truth. I don't want this to happen, but the more I think about it, the more it happens. I mean, how is that possible?

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:16:20]:

No, it's true. And also, though, from an evolutionary perspective, we pay attention to what's not working rather than what's working.

Dr. Pelè [00:16:27]:

The negativity bias.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:16:29]:

Yeah. If you're giving a talk in a workshop and you say to people, nobody walked in here and sat down on that chair and thought, oh, four good legs. But if you sat down, there were only three good legs, you'd pay attention to it. And that's what we do in our life. We pay attention to what's not working.

Dr. Pelè [00:16:49]:

Powerful stuff. Okay, so thank you for kind of defining recognition, clearly. And the rest of these really sound powerful, like empowering, supportive feedback. Do you have any stories you can share, maybe success stories about how maybe you showed up and helped an organization see things a little bit differently from your perspective?

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:17:12]:

Yeah, what I find most powerful, I do a lot of individual coaching, and I believe very much, by the way, in 360 degree assessments, I think they're incredibly powerful to open up blind spots. There's this idea of continuous continuity of change, the openness, the readiness to change. And for people, almost everybody, Dr. Pele believes that they're respectful and that they're respected, almost universal. Very few people will admit they're a horse's butt and treat people disrespectfully. Opening people's eyes up to that. And I say, Look, I know it's not your intention to treat people disrespectfully. However, the behaviors that you're engaging in, what you're doing and not doing what you're saying and you're not saying are leading people to that conclusion. Right. That feeling, that experience with you. And so there was one individual I'm thinking about in particularly who was a very toxic fellow, and the reason that he was kept around, like many people that are kept around that are toxic is because he had very specific technical skills that the company didn't feel they could do without. And so this is getting to sort of the respect training that I work. I do. So we went out for a cup of coffee, and after our second meeting, and he was really rude to the waitress, and I just looked at him, and I'm like, what the heck was that? And this light bulb. You can see light bulb go off. And he looks at me, he goes, you mean I'm supposed to respect everybody? And it's like, that's the way it works. And so what I call my model is it's an actionable philosophy. One can sit there and say they're an environmentalist or they're a philanthropist or they belong to a certain Christianity or something. That's all great, but if you don't actually put actions behind them, if you don't live that, you don't live that every day. It's who you are, right? Like, fundamentally, who I try to be is a person of respect. And to show up like that for everybody. I fail often, but that's my effort, right? And that's what I encourage other people to do. And when that happens, you can really see magic in terms of relationships transforming.

Dr. Pelè [00:19:30]:

Powerful. Powerful. So, Dr. Paul, give us a sense of what a successful and respectful environment looks like. So if you have any stories of sort of, what does it look like to walk into an office where respect actually exists?

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:19:47]:

What a great question. So when I started doing this work, I have an audience, a workshop, and I talk about, do you think respect is important? Everyone's heads are shaking. Yes. And then I say, okay, well, what does that look like in an organization? And then that was like, somehow it stumped them. Oh, yeah. Well, what does that look like? So I have a list of I think it's 130 different ways to show respect in your workplace, which I would be more than happy, of course, to share with your listeners. So how does that show? So we can show up anything from literally making sure the trash is cleaned up, right? You're not leaving trash around like, that's literally physical, to actively listening to people, to showing up for meetings on time, for responding promptly to emails, to, again, allowing other people to speak, to compliment people, just to support people in general, to provide constructive feedback in a meaningful, not a destructive way. There's lots of ways that it shows up. And I think one, when you walk into a respectful environment, it's for sure one in which a subordinate which I hate that word a subordinate can provide constructive feedback to his or her manager. That, for me, you know, it's a respectful environment.

Dr. Pelè [00:21:11]:

You know, it's interesting, is I think you can actually feel and almost intuitively know when it's absent or when it exists. Even if people are telling you otherwise, you can feel.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:21:24]:

Yeah. And just one other quick story. I was once asked to work with these colleagues that they were like cats and dogs. It is not a good situation. And people often think that it's just about them. So you and I are in conflict, and we just think, oh, it's not just about us. It's about the people around us, around the impact that it has on them. And I think to bring that sense of awareness that it creates dysfunction and it's unfair, quite frankly, for those around and put that responsibility on people to help clean up that relationship. And that's what in the work that I do, I think is really meaningful and makes me happy, I guess. That sense of profitable happiness that you preach.

Dr. Pelè [00:22:08]:

Yeah. Well, you mentioned in our discussion before we got started about one slide in your presentation where you have Hale, the soccer player, doing his famous bicycle kick and you use that somehow to describe engagement. Give us a sense of what you mean by that because I really loved your analogy by that.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:22:27]:

Yeah, well, listen, I'm very visual person. So if there's any better visual of somebody being actively engaged please somebody share it with me because that, for me is just like fully in the game. As a coach, I think that's a really important part of our responsibility is to help people be fully in the game and to be as good as they can be no matter what level they're at.

Dr. Pelè [00:22:52]:

And when you talk about being fully in the game you mean get outside of the theory or the concept of the ideas or do you mean something else? What do you mean by being fully in the game?

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:23:01]:

What does that mean? Fully in the game is taking like 100% responsibility for not just what you do but 100% responsibility for the people around you and supporting them. It often looks like the most simple definition is people's willingness to take initiative. That's what it looks like. So when I go into an organization's classic example I was once hired and first thing in the morning I went to use the restroom and the garbage can was overflowing and there was no soap. And I went out and I said I don't need to do an engagement survey. I really don't. People aren't engaged. There's no integrity within the context of a respectful organization. It just doesn't work.

Dr. Pelè [00:23:49]:

Powerful stuff you're saying. You don't need to show me what the leaders think or what all these people think. I can see it even in these examples right in front of me. It's visual. It's everywhere. That's powerful. Let's talk a little bit about the idea of how engagement and profitable happiness and respect all sort of come together. Is there a confluence of these ideas in your experience? What do you think of happy employees? Some people don't think that's a thing. Other people really just believe that if employees are happy, then companies will be successful. How does respect play in that conversation?

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:24:27]:

Well, I think, and I would think you would agree that as human beings we are meant to be in a state of happiness. So fundamentally, as human beings, we thrive when we're happy. Now, I'll leave it to you to define happiness because you're the expert in that. But for me, anyway, it's a sense of fulfillment. And so if I want to use myself as an example. What I get fulfillment around is helping to foster a culture of respect and organization. It's around helping individuals become more respectful and to make a difference. So for me, happiness, profitable happiness is derived from the level of impact that I can have on others. And I think that particularly in, quote, unquote, this generation, whatever letter we're on that that's true. My grandfather came from Italy and worked in a rock war 18 hours a day. That wasn't a question to ask himself. It was. Am I happy? Am I sad? No. It was about putting food on the table. And for a lot of people it still is, right? They're in roles and jobs that they need to do that for those of us that are blessed and fortunate enough to have careers where we have some choice, I think that idea of fulfillment is really necessary, that personal level of fulfillment in order to be happy in what we do.

Dr. Pelè [00:26:02]:

And of course, how can you feel fulfilled when people around you are not showing respect or when maybe for whatever reason, you aren't showing respect to other people? There's always going to be a friction there. In fact, I have a saying that we don't have to be happy all the time to be profitably happy. Happiness actually can exist without being happy all the time. It's a larger definition of purpose, meaning, focus, all those kinds of things.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:26:34]:

I have to ask you a question.

Dr. Pelè [00:26:35]:


Dr. Paul Marciano [00:26:36]:

You hear people say, well, it's a choice to be happy. You can choose to be happy. Do you believe that's true or not?

Dr. Pelè [00:26:42]:

100%. And I'll tell you why. A lot of people think that happiness is a feeling that comes to you. So that means it's dependent if it's a feeling that comes to you, it's dependent on external things happening and so on and so forth. But in fact, happiness is a feeling and an emotion that can be derived from within you. It's intrinsic. So if you think happy thoughts, if you do things that bring you happiness, actions that drive happiness create happiness. And that's where the choice lies. The choice lies in you deliberately choosing to think, pursue, do things that bring you happiness. And believe it or not, the emotion will follow the action. Remember when we were smiling before we started this conversation? You can't smile without feeling a little better.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:27:28]:

Well, you probably know this then there were studies there where they would put slightest electrodes on the side of people's faces that would force their lips to raise like a smile. And then the results were that people were happier after they did that.

Dr. Pelè [00:27:45]:

There you go. Actions can generate happiness. And so I think, for me anyway, the idea of happiness being a choice has been so liberating because it has given me control of my life again. And I now know that I don't have to wait till I get the lamborghini to be happy. I can be happy right now, right?

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:28:04]:

Yeah. If you're in that game of I'll be happy when you're going to lose it. Lose that game.

Dr. Pelè [00:28:10]:

Yeah. Dr. Paul, we were joking about how we just don't have enough time because there's just too much fun stuff you and I can talk about. But let me ask you one final question. What are you most excited about right now? What projects do you have your head around, are you working on? And how can people get a hold of you and those projects right now?

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:28:30]:

What I'm most excited about and you referenced my most recent book and my last book is called let's Talk About It. So turning confrontation into collaboration. And so my feeling that it would be a happier world if people were able to have straight conversations with one another. And I believe that the work that I have to share will have that ability to educate people around not having straight conversations, but more importantly, perhaps, of how to engage with others in a manner that prevents those kind of difficult conversations in the first place. And so I'm excited about working with, again, individuals and organizations and teaching them about how to have productive, respectful conversations, because I know the difference that that makes. And people can find me www.paulmarciano.com or look up let's Talk About It, or Carathon six don't work on Amazon or anywhere else. Books are sold and love to hear from folks.

Dr. Pelè [00:29:31]:

Well, and they can also go to LinkedIn, which I'm going to share below, and they can go to Google, which is where I found you.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:29:38]:


Dr. Pelè [00:29:40]:

Dr. Paul, it is such a pleasure to have you on the show. Thank you so much for being a part of the Profitable Happiness podcast.

Dr. Paul Marciano [00:29:47]:

It's been an honor to be on and I appreciate it very much and appreciate the respect you've shown me today.

Dr. Pelè [00:29:55]:

Thanks for tuning in to the Profitable Happiness podcast. For more episodes, visit DrPele.com. And remember, get happy first and success will follow.