How to Earn Respect from your Employees

By on September 4, 2009

RespectWhether you are brand-new to your position or have been experiencing a difficult time interacting with your employees, you must realize that respect is not something that automatically comes with the position, but it must be earned. This is a mistake that many new managers or bosses make as they think that merely being in the position of supervisor is sufficient to garner the attention and respect of subordinates.

While you must always, fundamentally, protect your ultimate position as a decision-maker, you should engage your employees as much as possible. This can often be a subtle undertaking as you neither want to appear to be too dominant nor too submissive, yet the path to respect lies in the middle.

Always show that you are competent, understand your role and have a good grasp of the business fundamentals. There is nothing worse than a ship adrift at sea and before you can get the respect of your employees you must be able to counter their fears and show them that you are clearly in control of the business destiny.

You must be able to “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk” and should establish yourself as the role model within the organization. Stand by your convictions and believe in what you say.

Never try and bluff your way through any situation. If you truly do not know, admit to it and move on to the next step, which is to try and find a solution to the issue and to educate yourself appropriately to do so. You can gain a lot of respect by engaging your employees to contribute their knowledge and possible solutions to the situation. This goes a long way to gather respect.

If you are new to your position as employer or supervisor, it is generally a good idea to allocate time to an inclusive meeting with all the staff, during which you may go through a “state of the business” discussion and outline the corporate goals, your goals and invite contributions to determine their goals. If you can establish that success is a joint initiative between all of you and that each employee has his or her significant part to play, then you can engage their support for your overall objectives.

If problems arise and decisions have to be made, understand that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this. It is often better to suggest rather than to dictate, as this helps to involve the employee and should make for a more enthusiastic approach, as opposed to a mandate. This does not mean that you should be “a pushover,” and must be prepared to make a firm decision if detraction, for one reason or another, would not be in the best interests of the business as a whole.

In short, always be approachable, reasonable, inclusive, appreciative yet firm. You will find that this approach is far more likely to gain employees’ respect and lead to a successful and mutually rewarding relationship.

Speaking from first hand experience, do you have any suggestions?

Matthew Toren

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Matthew Toren

About Matthew Toren

Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.