As any leader knows, respect is key when it comes to creating a productive and happy workplace. You have to respect your team, and they need to respect you. If your team doesn’t respect you, they’re not going to listen to you, take you seriously, or make an effort to go above and beyond on the job.
Of course, respect isn’t something most people just give freely. It’s earned—and a good leader should always be striving to continually gain and maintain respect from their team. If you’re not sure how to do that, or you’re noticing your team has begun to lose faith and trust in you, then it might be time to think about applying these 7 tips to begin earning more respect from your employees.
1. Respect Them Back
This is the most important principle to remember: respect creates more respect. This may seem like an obvious statement, but the fact is that many employees don’t feel respected by their bosses. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study of about 20,000 workers revealed that an incredible 54% of those surveyed felt they did not receive adequate respect from their managers on a regular basis.
Since feeling disrespected has a negative impact on everything from job satisfaction to productivity to turnover, making employees feel respected is absolutely essential for both team performance and gaining respect yourself.
2. Check Your Emotional Intelligence
Emotionally intelligent individuals tend to make exceptionally good leaders. They can sense and understand the feelings of others as well as their own. Empathy, communication, self-awareness, and the ability to self-regulate are all hallmarks of emotional intelligence, and can help leaders gain more respect from their employees.
If you think your emotional intelligence could use some work, don’t worry: all indications show that it is possible to improve your emotional intelligence if you put in the effort.
3. Be Available and Approachable
In the past, “commanding respect” often meant being authoritative, and frankly, scary. Fortunately, we’ve mostly moved past this notion, and we now know that being approachable, available, and willing to help is more likely to gain you true respect than being intimidating.
That doesn’t mean you should let your employees walk all over you, but listening to them, practicing empathy, and thoughtfully helping them when they need you will go a long way towards gaining their respect. Connect with people. Show them you appreciate them and want them to succeed.
4. Set High Standards…for Yourself
You won’t earn respect if you have different expectations for your employees than you do for yourself. Set high standards for yourself—both for your behavior and the quality of your work. Be consistent, arrive at work on time, do your share, be helpful, and make sure to model a healthy work-life balance.
If you’re sleep-deprived and overworking yourself, you’re not setting a good example for your team. Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep can cause health problems and poor productivity. This isn’t just anecdotal—there’s overwhelming evidence that a lack of sleep impacts productivity and well-being, and studies have shown that night shift workers are more prone to developing certain health problems due to poor quality sleep patterns.
Work hard, but show that you understand the importance of rest and relaxation. Take and give credit when it is due, and be sure to acknowledge when you have made an error and take the appropriate steps to make things right.
5. Banish Negativity
One negative employee can sour office morale. It’s bad enough when one of your team member is negative, but if you’re the one complaining and placing blame, it’s even worse. Your team won’t respect you and your negative energy will likely influence negativity on their part as well.
This is particularly important if you’re in a leadership position. Now, I know that right now some of you might be thinking, “Well, sometimes a little bit of constructive criticism is helpful.” And while that may be true, professionals within the management industry stress that it is essential to also provide positive feedback at appropriate times.
As Richard Greggory Johnson III, Professor of Management at the University of San Francisco, noted in a Huffington Post article, “Make sure that everyone in your workplace knows that, in no uncertain terms, they are an important part of the organization.”
You don’t have to be constantly upbeat and optimistic—that’s unrealistic—but there’s no place for chronic negativity in the workplace.
6. Don’t Micromanage
Letting go is one of the cardinal rule of management. You need to be able to tell your employees what needs to be done without telling them how to do it. How would you like someone looking over your shoulder, micromanaging and pointing out how they’d do things differently?
Swallow your opinions and focus on the end product. That’s what matters, after all, and showing that you trust your employees to get there using their own methods is a great way to gain respect.
7. Encourage Diversity
Making an effort to hire a diverse staff will not only help your team become more innovative and productive, it will help show that you are open to a wide range of opinions and ideas. Seeing the value diverse perspectives bring to the table is just one more way leaders can show they’re worthy of respect.