The Respect Effect Rocks Hard Rock Cafe

It turns out that the man with the coolest haircut at the conference also has a message. And a partner in crime. The hair belongs to Jim Knight, recently-ex-longstanding-Training Director of Hard Rock Cafe. The partner is Paul Meshanko, author of the book “The Respect Effect.” Paul has promised us that we are going to learn about respect and organisational performance in a whole new way. We will leave with a new “Ah-Ha” moment about respect…. Here we go!



First things first: What are the traditional reasons to focus on respect?
Many organisations think they should focus on respect. Some sense of social justice or willingness to limit legal responsibility obliges companies to work on respect, via diversity initiatives and other corporate solutions to disrespect.

I once worked in a company whose HR department had the recruitment objective to bring in a blind lesbian African American… To show diversity to the outside world and to show we are an “equal opportunities employer.” This is NOT the kind of respect we are talking about.


Paul Meshanko suggests that there are far better reasons to focus on respect.
Anyone who has already learnt a little about stress management knows that as soon as we feel threatened by something, we are not able to function properly. The frontal-lobe shuts down. We are no longer creative. Things take more effort. And we get bad results.

What threatens us? (Think about it)


The example Paul gives is about dealing with people who are different to us. As soon as we are faced with people who aren’t like us, there is a potential for fear and suspicion, which leads to avoidance or even hostility. The opposite of this would be curiosity and a kind of “going toward” or true hospitality.

The list of reasons to feel suspicious and fear is endless and probably very personal. What is important to know is that when it happens we lose creativity, motivation and results.


So, assuming we agree that a focus on respect is cool, we might want to work on it. But with all the things we should be working on as L+D professionals, what’s the business case for respect? Enter Jim Knight

Reason number 1: The current generation of workers holds high respect in high esteem. Higher than before. If you want to keep them, you’ve got to respect them. Disrespect costs in recruitment, learning + development, and lack of productivity. Cash.
Reason number 2: Customers demand respect. They don’t come back when they don’t have it. Disrespect costs in marketing to find new clients and bottom-line profit.


What do we need to do to get this culture of respect?
The first most important thing noted by Jim Knight is authentic values-driven recruitment. Respect your own values and don’t accept any less than perfect alignment when you bring on new people. By having people who are true to your mission and values (because it’s their mission and values too) you will increase retention and they will work harder. And when houve got the right people you have to talk to them, listen to them, thank them, develop them (and whatever you do, don’t yell at them!)

With regard to your customers, Jim Knight says you’ve got to treat them like it’s a first date. Every day. Treat everyone like they are the boss, the president even… the most important person in your air-space.


From my side, it’s interesting to reflect on my experience at the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Denver this week. I’d never been in HRC before. I can’t wait to go back. Literally. It was AWESOME! I can tell you the name of my “server” (I want to say “new friend Bryan”). I bought a baseball cap and a key-ring. They played “Jeremy” for me. They played it louder. For me. Because I don’t hear so well and they knew that.

Pure respect.


About Dan Steer

Wandering corporate trainer, learning and development consultant, conference speaker and professional El-Magico. I help people get better at stuff by creating and facilitating Infinite Learning © opportunities. The world would be a better place if everyone was doing what he loved and doing it well. I am working to bring out the "El Magico" in everybody. Training in presentation and communication skills, leadership, social media for learning and marketing, learning and development management + personal effectiveness.

Posted on May 8, 2012, in Leadership, Self-Effectiveness and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

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