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R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Find Out What It Means to Me

July 29th, 2010 emcarp11

Have you ever watched Hell’s Kitchen?

If you have, you know the juicy, dramatic scene that occurs in every episode: As the chefs cook furiously, Chef Gordon Ramsey realizes the chicken is still raw on the inside and begins screaming in his British accent. The cooks cower in fear.

Various bleeped-out curses ensue and, a few moments later, the under-cooked chicken-maker is crying in a closet about how he or she “can’t take this kind of pressure anymore.”

All of this makes for wonderfully addicting television. But, does it make for good reality?

In my opinion, mutual respect within a work place tends to be much more effective than intimidation and degradation.

Earlier this week, S&A hosted a Summer gathering with some friends of the firm on our terrace. Pera, a Mediterranean restaurant located near Grand Central Station was brought in to cater the event. A number of folks here are big fans of the restaurant, which is located just across the street.

As an avid Hell’s Kitchen fan, I was intrigued watching executive chef Jason Avery manage his brigade. Apparently, referring to your team as lazy donkeys the way Chef Ramsey does is not entirely standard operating procedure.

Rather than treating his employees as inferiors, Jason treats them as equals. While delegating jobs, he helps set up tables and put out food. When we entered “crunch time” and his orders became firmer, his employees responded quickly and efficiently – not from fear, but from what appeared to be respect for Jason and a desire to produce top quality service. In the business world, I think this is what they mean by having “engaged employees.”

Throughout the evening, Jason and his employees were cheerful and relaxed, which promoted a positive mood with the guests and helped make the night successful.

S&A office similarly puts mutual respect and professionalism above all else. Beyond treating people kindly and with dignity, we allow everyone to politely voice their opinions without fear of embarrassment or reprisal – regardless of whether or not we agree with them. Whether you are new to the business, like me, or an experienced associate, everyone feels comfortable offering ideas during brainstorming sessions. Even Eric’s writing undergoes careful scrutiny before being finalized!

We may vary greatly in levels of experience, but we each have important ideas to contribute. While the PR veterans provide wisdom and an understanding of how the business works, the newbies can offer fresh insight and new perspectives.

Even though I am an intern, I am treated as a full member of the S&A team – no exaggeration.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to Eric about my addiction to coffee and joked, “I think you guys should rent a Keurig for the summer. I would be happy to test one out for you!”
Instead of laughing or telling me to “keep dreaming,” Eric simply asked, “Do you really want a Keurig? Do you think it would be good for the office?”

(For those non-coffee addicts who are wondering what I am talking about, a Keurig is a coffee maker that brews a single cup of coffee in about 60 seconds. It is a coffee-lover’s dream-come-true.)

After I explained how efficient and useful a Keurig would be for the office, we had one by the end of the day!

Now, every cup (or several cups) of delicious coffee I drink at work each day reminds me that I work in an environment of mutual respect. Sorry to break it to you guys, but it looks like there won’t be any tears or “I can’t take it anymore”’s coming from this blog any time soon. I guess you’ll just have to keep tuning into Hell’s Kitchen for that drama.

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