Leading Through Mutual Respect

Essential, Timely and Transformative

Our society and workplaces are challenged today by broad and deepening differences. Managing a diverse and flexible workforce requires much more than awareness of abuse and bias and narrow policy responses. It requires strong collaborative skills across the organization. Our Mutual Respect framework of behavioral standards and intensive training transforms divisive habits into conciliatory skills. It has proven highly effective in making riven and rigid workplaces more productive, flexible and harmonious.

Experiencing Diversity…
The last two decades have been marked by the introduction of fundamental differences into workplaces steeped in homogeneity, tradition and habitual behavior.

The iconic white male workforce has been diversified by gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and age. Yet deep support for these changes has not materialized.

Flexible work programs haven’t led to flexible management, women contributors have been met with harassment and ethnic & older workers encounter daily bias.

…Yet Resisting Inclusion
Deeply held assumptions and longstanding practices did not evaporate as serious differences came to co-exist in the workplace. The diversity and flexibility agendas drove and were driven by the challenge of building the new, accepting workplace. Many employers saw active campaigns for Diversity & Inclusion. Viewing attitudes as a primary obstacle, companies and D&I advocates launched ERGs and policy, communication and training campaigns addressing sexual harassment, implicit bias and rigid schedules.

The Time Has Come for the Mutual Respect Framework

These efforts are valuable and imperative elements in a daunting change process. In our view they are necessary, but not sufficient components of the massive transformational task we face. Awareness and discrete programs are simply inadequate. To achieve the true inclusion of differences and divergent assumptions we must disrupt and undo destructive habits and discriminatory standards.Tomorrow’s workplaces need collective commitment to positive standards and the habits and skills that can actualize them. They need the demanding standards and habits of Mutual Respect.


Achieving the “respectful treatment” the workforce requires

For more than a decade our principals have pioneered this approach to inclusive change that is anchored in seven organization-wide standards and corresponding behaviors/habits. These deceptively “simple” productive practices implemented universally and reinforced regularly can transform workplaces into more inclusive, tolerant and innovative environments. Our process and framework include:

Standards – Seven linked standards that lead to Mutual Respect & Inclusion are endorsed by leadership
Practices – Each standard defines an essential practice that is the ongoing goal of all participants
Habits – Mastering these practices requires not just awareness and training, but systematic change of habits
Accountability – Groups commit to the standards and commit to enforcing the framework
Universal – All staff participate, from leaders to all levels of employees and contractors


See Explanation of Principles Here

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A Flexibility Success Story from

St. John’s Queens Hospital
Collaborating Through Differences
Client Challenge   

This New York hospital and trauma center served diverse and demanding immigrant neighborhoods in Queens. Differences abounded among several unions and a traditional management. Their deeply held biases and assumptions and often disrespectful behaviors disrupted employee relations, patient care and RN scheduling. Patient and employee satisfaction measures were well below acceptable standards. RN retention suffered.

Our Intervention

After systematic observation of hospital operations and data review, we conducted a broad set of leader interviews and staff focus groups to identify sources of concern and potential levers for change. Having determined that RN dissatisfaction with scheduling drove many negative behaviors, we launched a project to delegate the schedule function from traditional – and sometimes punitive – nurse managers to teams. We provided Mutual Respect training to create the capacity for collaborative scheduling in what had been an adversarial environment. The Hospital then chose to embrace the approach across the institution.

Organizational Outcome 

Beyond noticeable improvement in standard measures of patient care and satisfaction, a study found:

• 79% of RNs were “more satisfied with team scheduling than with the way we used to schedule”

• 64% of Nurse Managers said “team scheduling has improved the morale of the RNs in my unit”

In a joint statement RNs and Nurse Managers said: ““Here people are now more likely to work together. The Mutual Respect process has opened up the dialogue between management & staff, greatly increasing our ability to work together across our many differences. Patient flow, staff satisfaction and patient and family feedback are greatly improved.”