Employee Respect: How To Earn It And Keep It At The Workplace

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Employee respect is one of the hardest things to gain or control when you take on a leadership role. Yet, it is one of the most crucial aspect for a leader to have.  

If you’d always thought that employee respect will come naturally with leadership, I hate to burst your bubble, but YOU MIGHT BE WRONG 

Employee respect is not simply handed to you once you step up to your leadership role. 

Employee respect needs to be earned. It needs to be deserved. It needs to come naturally from your followers.  

Employee respect starts naturally from your followers

Sure, you can command people to respect you just because you hold a higher title. But employee respect that comes naturally from your employees will matter so more for you in the long run, even after you leave the job.  

So how do you know if your employees actually respect you? And how can you earn employee respect if they currently don’t? 

Earning Employee Respect Starts With Listening 

When you give instructions to your employees, do they give you their fullest attention? Are they zoning out, looking elsewhere as you speak? Do they ask questions to clarify what is it that is needed, or do they often question your decision? Worst still, do they completely ignore your instructions?  

Employee respect begins with listening

Pay attention to how they respond to directions given. Listening is one of the most basic signs of employee respect. If your employees do not even start by listening to you, then you can be sure that they do not respect you.  

Leaders tend to forget that this is true in both directions. Do you listen to their feedback? Do you make it a point to understand your employees better as individuals, something as simple as making mental notes of what each of their hobbies are? If you do not bother to listen to your employees well, then you are not showing them respect too.  

To get your employees to start listening to you, be sure that YOU listen to them first. Don’t forget that your employees are humans as well, and they are there to help you. Starting showing interest in what they have to say. Listen to their suggestions, and start understanding them better as individuals.  

Employee Respect Is Built With Trust 

Does it seem like your employees don’t trust you? Do you find it difficult to get them to comply with your instructions? When things go wrong, do you start pointing fingers, or take responsibility for it? Where credits are due, do you pass them along?  

Remember that trust goes both ways too.  

Employee respect begins with trust

When handing out assignments, start noticing if you tell them WHAT to do, or HOW to do things. To bring out the best of your employees, you need to trust them to be able to get the job done the way they know best. You did not hire them because they are exactly like you. They are different and can bring many different great things to the table. Try to start telling them WHAT to do instead of HOW, and let them have the freedom to get the job done. You’d be surprised with the positive outcomes! 

On the other hand, when things go wrong, don’t be too quick to point fingers. Great leaders take the blame and pass along credits. Take failures and mistakes as opportunities to improve. Where credits are due, pass them along to let your employees know that you see their hard work, and you trust their abilities!  

When employees see your confidence in both them and yourself, the trust and respect towards you will definitely grow. Great leaders don’t shun from responsibilities. Great leaders face responsibilities head-on.  

Employee Respect Starts With Yourself 

How do you hold yourself in front of your employees? In meetings, do you use words like “I just want to check…”, or “I’m just concerned…” , or “I’m not sure…”? Do your actions align with the words you speak? Or perhaps are you impossible to please?  

To garner respect from your employees, you need to first respect yourself as who you are. Be confident in yourself as a leader!  

 Employee respect starts with yourself

Try to start with avoiding using phrases that make you seem not confident, and sometimes almost apologetic, about what you are about to say. Instead of “I’m not sure”, say “I will get back to you on this”. Instead of “I’m just concerned…”, just go straight to the point and state your concern. Instead of saying “I just want to check…”, just ask your question. When you are confident in yourself, your employees will have that confidence in you as well, and the respect will naturally form from there.  

At the same time, practice what you preach. If you are trying to promote creativity amongst your employees, don’t outright put down every single idea that they propose in front of you. Hear them out and let their creativity flow! When your employees see that you are consistent with what you do and say, they will see that you are a genuine leader and the respect will form naturally.  

Remember, employee respect does not automatically come just because you hold a higher title than your employees. Employee respect needs to be earned and deserved.  

If you like this article and want to find out more about Empowering Leaders, feel free to download the FREE guide we have prepared for you below.

Aly is StrengthsAsia’s marketing and communications guru and lead editor. She's over the top inquisitive and everyone in the company knows her as “The Googler” as she practically googles everything. Honestly, we all worry for her… She is also the Principal Trainer for our one of a kind ice cream team building workshops in Asia.

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