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Earn respect at work

We’ve all heard that “you can’t demand respect, it must be earned”.

Unfortunately, many managers and leaders suffer from a lack of respect. It’s not necessarily because these leaders are bad at their job. No, it can be more complicated than that.

If you want to earn respect at work, first we need to look at some of the factors that can cause leaders to lose respect in the first place.

Then for each of these, we’ll look at some simple actions you can take to try to fix it.

1. Leaders Lose Respect Because They Don’t Listen

Earn respect at work - listeningSometimes managers can become frustrated because their team won’t follow their directions. However, the root cause of this issue may be that the leader is simply not listening to complaints or feedback coming from the team.

Often this happens because a leader feels insecure about not knowing everything.

For more on this, read: Are You An Insecure Leader?

When you stop listening and just want people to “Do what I say”, you start to lose respect. This “My way or the highway” approach makes people feel like their opinions aren’t valued.

Once this happens, team members stop contributing their ideas. Sometimes, they might even take matters into their own hands and make changes themselves. If your team has a lot of experience, there is more chance that this will be the case.

They’ll do what they know is right, because their manager won’t listen anyway.

How to Fix It And Earn Respect at Work

The answer to this is relatively simple. Start listening.

If your team members complain, listen to what they are saying. Sometimes, it’s just letting off steam. But other times, there can be golden suggestions hidden in their pain points.

Listen and then respond. If you can’t help them with their issue or suggestion, let them know why. Make improvements where you can, based on team member suggestions.

Once they know you’re listening, you’ll start to earn respect.

2. Leaders Lose Respect Because They Don’t Understand the Details

Many leaders walk a fine line here. On the one hand, if you are constantly getting deep into the details with your team, you probably don’t have time to manage them properly.

On the other, knowing all the details can lead to micromanaging the team, because you feel like you can do the work yourself.

For more about this topic, read: Are you a micromanaging boss? or How Much Technical Expertise Should You Have to Lead Your Team?

When a manager doesn’t know enough about the details, sometimes their expectations are unrealistic. They want something done in two hours, when the team knows it actually takes two days.

Then, when a leader starts to consistently demand that the team hit unrealistic goals, the team starts to lose respect.

How to Fix It And Earn Respect at Work

Really, this comes down to trust. Leaders need to walk the fine line between knowing all the details and trusting that the team members know what they are doing.

Earn respect at work - balancing act

To earn respect, leaders need to learn enough of the details by working closely with the team. When they start to understand some of the challenges, they will be able to help resolve them, or temper their expectations so they are more realistic.

A manager cannot be buried deep in the detail, but also can’t be clueless about the technical work of the team. They need to exist somewhere in the middle – knowing enough of the team’s challenges, while also standing back, providing support and letting their team members do their jobs.

3. Leaders Lose Respect Because They Don’t Address Team Issues

When leaders won’t face up to team problems or do anything about them, trouble starts.

If other team members perceive that someone in the team is “getting away with murder”, they will start to see the team manager as ineffective, weak or unfair.

There is no doubt that fixing team issues can be hard. Usually they involve direct conversations, which can be quite awkward. However, when you have a choice between having a difficult conversation or losing the respect of your team, which do you think is the best option?

How to Fix It And Earn Respect at Work

To earn respect, leaders need to stop trouble, quickly. If there are issues with a team member, they need to be addressed fast.

To do this, managers need to be observant and keep close to what’s happening in their team. This will enable them to spot issues early on, before they spiral into big team problems. Then, leaders need to let their team know that they are addressing the problems, rather than ignoring them and hoping they go away.

Really, open communication with your team is critical to spot team issues, and fix them quickly.

To learn more about this, read: 5 easy ways to create open communication in your team.

Tip: Sometimes fixing a team issue requires a hard conversation. If you feel like you aren’t confident or comfortable having the difficult conversations you need to have in your team, Thoughtful Leader is here to help. Check out the Difficult Conversations eBook, to help you tackle the hard conversations sensitively and with confidence. Don’t avoid the difficult discussions… try the eBook today.

What do you think are some more ways to earn respect at work? Let me know in the comments below!

Alternatively, if you would like to ask a question or need some help, you can send me a private message through my contact page.

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