I’m slowly becoming more confident that the most important aspect in any organization is how much the people involved respect each other.
You don’t have to be best friends with your coworkers, but if there is a lack of mutual trust and respect, then your inner work life is likely to suffer greatly. There are few things as damaging to your motivation and inner work life as the thought that those around you do not respect you, your ideas, and your efforts.
The book, The Progress Principle, details a situation where two top engineers from a company were put on a project, both told that they were going to be the lead engineer. Within a short period of time it became obvious that they lacked respect for each other and had little interest in listening to each others ideas. This was obvious to other people on the project as well as people who worked with the team. Teammates became sick of hearing their project leads complaining about each other, breeding a lack of confidence in their leadership. People from other teams who had to work with this team complained about how ineffective the team was at helping other teams, due to what seemed to be a serious lack of communication within the team.
The journal entries from one of the engineering leads became increasingly frustrated. The lack of respect from her teammates ate away at her and she eventually quit. She was a top person at the company and she left because she didn’t feel respected. I would guess many people at the company did respect her, but because she was put on a team with someone who did not respect her, her inner work life eroded quickly and she left the company all together.
You may think that is an extreme reaction, but I don’t think so. Talented people know they can find work elsewhere and a sense that the people around you don’t respect you and your efforts is very corrosive. Frankly I’m glad she left. No one should have to put up with an environment like that.