By Roy Maclaughlin

It is no big news that respect at a workplace is crucially important for successful business management. If the entire team of the company can be compared to an engine working to drive success, then respect is oil that keeps the engine running smoothly. In fact, when there is no oil or when it gets low, the parts of the engine will start rub against each other. From there it is only a matter of minutes until the engine will destroy itself (most likely in a very spectacular fashion)! As a business owner (manager), you are interested in the opposite – creating a lasting foundation based on respect and building a team that has your back.

The common myth is that respect is handed down to managers and company owners automatically. But just because you are the employer it doesn’t mean you deserve respect by default. Such things as respect, trust, and loyalty are earned – and the more you ignore this fact, the more difficult it is to earn these.

Why Bother About Respect of Your Employees So Much?

Respect is closely tied to another vital factor – employee engagement. The importance of the latter can unlikely be overstated – high employee engagement rates tend to reduce staff turnover, improve efficiency, and make more profits. For example, a study of 64 organizations demonstrated that companies with highly engaged staff achieved twice the annual net income of the companies whose employees lag behind on engagement. If that doesn’t sound convincing enough, what will?

It may sound surprising but the strongest predictor of employee engagement rate is a tie between the levels of employee respect for the company’s leadership. That being said, business managers must focus on investing their efforts into cultivating leadership respect because that’s what makes a huge difference. Here are some of the basic reasons how respect can become the game changer in your company.

  • Employees are more likely to give their best. The motivation to give your best for someone comes naturally when you feel respect for that someone. People who have respect for their supervisors and managers are willing to “go the extra mile” when asked to do so. This is common sense and we practice this in our lives in relationships with friends or people we know. There is no good reason why this shouldn’t work for your company.
  • Employees better respect the company rules. It is obvious that rules are made to break them – at least that’s what employee often think of internal policies. However, if employees respect the company and its management, they will more likely adhere to the procedures and policies, thus making your life much easier.
  • Without respect, morale problems in the team aggravate faster because employees feel disconnected. The employee-management bond will inevitably fray in the environment where workers do not respect their manager. This consequently will have a negative impact on the employees’ attitude which will cause morale problems in the team.
  • Loss of employees’ respect will result in a higher turnover. As employers know, high turnover can become a real headache for both the HR department and the company in general. On the contrary, low turnover helps save money as well as create an environment, which makes it easier to recruit and retain talents.
  • Respect is closely bound up with employees’ loyalty. When employees respect their managers, they often support the company’s values and mission while helping to achieve its objectives. Consequently, workers tell be telling their friends about the company, which spreads goodwill.

How Can You Tell If Your Employees Respect You?

Obviously, in most cases you will be able to tell whether your employees respect you or they are already look for ways how they can start their job search. However, if you have any doubts, here are some things you may want to pay attention to:

Communication. Ask yourself whether your employees talk down to you. If you can spot any signs of disrespect, it is time to step back and evaluate the employee-management relationships.

Attention. Do your employees listen to what you say? Do they usually give you their full attention? How do they respond to your comments or constructive criticism?

Openness. The more open your subordinates are with you, the better a sign it is. Also, see if your workers tell you when there is an issue; if they try to hide it, then this may be a red flag.

Sincerity. It may well be that your employees tell you one thing but they have a different story behind your back. Any sign of insincerity could mean your workers don’t respect you.

Body language. You don’t really need to be a body language expert to detect any signs of disrespect. Do they look in the eyes when talking to you? Do they appear controlled or do they close themselves off? Usually, people can tell when someone they talk to acts strangely – this may mean you want to pay a closer look.

Obedience. This is the most straightforward way to tell if your employees respect you. The way workers respond to your direction often is the best respect test. Ask yourself whether your workers question your authority or ever ignore your requests.

5 Ways to Earn Respect from Your Employees

Too many managers today take their authority for granted. They think employees should respect them because of where they are on the organizational chart. It may have worked 20 years ago but as the workplace evolved to become more mindful of the employees’ needs – supervisors, managers, and company owners must earn respect from their subordinates. The problem is that we live in a world where more and more people have trouble trusting others and today’s workplace is no exception. Employees’ trust and respect require some proof of performance on behalf of the managers, which means employers must become more accountable for the consequences their influence has on their workers. The question is what you can do to earn respect from your employees?

Show that you care. It is interesting that 59% of employees (small business) said that what they respected most about their employer was that they had provided a pleasant work environment (Aflac). Essentially, what employees are saying is that they respect employers for caring about them enough to create an environment in which they could do their job efficiently. It all starts on a personal level though: asking how things are going, getting an employee a cup of coffee, helping to resolve a complex work issue, etc. On a larger scale, it is organizing the working conditions of your employees in a way that they feel valued. It goes without saying that it is considerably easier to earn employees’ respect when they feel that their supervisor cares about their work and wellbeing. Besides, such approach will help improve overall business efficiency.

Set the standard. Actions speak louder than words. Employees’ need to see the aforementioned “proof of performance” before they can trust and respect their employers. The problem is that today many people prefer creating unnecessary noise in order to get some attention. Instead, managers and supervisors need to walk the talk. This will also prove through your work ethic as well as the fact that you are reliable and trustworthy. The leaders set the tone and it is either a good or a bad one. It is either a tone that sets the respect standard or a tone that will leave this aspect up to each employee individually. In other words, you set the standard leaving behind a huge impact whether you like it or now.

Admit your mistakes. The position of an employer assumes taking risks, which inevitably leads to making mistakes. It is okay to make mistakes and it is even more than okay to admit them, especially if you are a leader. One of the common myths that was cultivated about 20 years ago is that the management team is above everybody in the organization and their mistakes shouldn’t be seen (let alone discussed) by other employees. Today it doesn’t work this way anymore. People will be discussing management mistakes either openly or behind their backs. Therefore, if you make a mistake, have the courage to own it in front of your workers and take the required steps to rectify the issue. Your employees will respect you for that and it will set a positive example for others.

Recognize your employees. If you want to earn respect of your employees then you need to learn how to reward and recognize them. Unfortunately, most leaders are concerned about their own recognition so much that they don’t notice those around them. The truth of the matter is that it is hard to earn one’s trust if it’s all about you. Take the time to understand what your workers need and make it all about their advancement. Reward them when they deserve it. Recognize their value. This can become a real game changer! We are all credit addicts after all.

Don’t show favoritism. According to the study by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, more than 90% of business executives have noticed favoritism in promotions. Managers and supervisors practice favoritism (intentionally or unintentionally). By showing favoritism you are not treating your employees equally damaging team unity and demotivating your staff. It is really easy to fall into this trap because it is in our human nature. If you are serious about earning respect of your employees then you have to make sure you don’t show anyone special treatment.

Respect is a Two-Way Street

According to the Yoh survey, over 50% of lower-level workers said that disrespect from the managers is the primary concern that might make them think about leaving their jobs even if they liked the job itself. So if you really want employees to respect you, show respect to your workers first. Below is the list of things how can you demonstrate respect to your employees.

Listen. It can be one of the hardest things to do for employers. When you put away your phone and listen attentively, it means that you are genuinely interested in what people have to say (= respect).

Help. The fact that you are their boss doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help your employees. In fact, it’s the opposite. Sometimes offering some advice or giving them some of your time means a lot.

Congratulate. Reward people for a job well done, even if it is a kind word in front of everybody. People work harder knowing their efforts are recognized.

Say thank you. This simple action helps employees understand you appreciate them and what they do. Something as simple as two words can make an impact.

Mutual respect is a solid foundation on which you can build your company success. Although company success is usually tied to relationships with customers, the importance of employee-employer relationship can unlikely be overstated. Employers say that customers are everything while treating employees like they are nothing but replaceable cogs in the huge company mechanism. The truth of the matter is that when you are in sync with your staff, your company will rapidly grow. The customer service will improve. The work will be more satisfying and easier for everybody. You will save thousands of dollars by not having to deal with employee relation issues. And it all starts from respect.

Having worked for 8 years as a professional writer at Prime-Resume, Roy Maclaughlin has become one of the most prominent company’s leaders today. From helping to overcome various career challenges to providing guidance in launching new career services, Roy has become instrumental in making a great difference both at Prime-Resume as well as in the careers of its clients. Prime-Resume has been serving job seekers for over 8 years now providing resume writing as well as other career assistance services.

Employees stock photo by nd3000/Shutterstock