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Article: Five Ways to Earn Your Employee's Respect Related Resources

Five Ways to Earn Your Employee's Respect
by Marnie Green

In the old days, respect came with the title. Managers were respected because they were managers. Heck, we even addressed them as "Mr. So and So." Today we are wise to that scam. Or at least we think we are. The reality is that today's employees have clear expectations of what they want from their leadership. And, if they get what they need, they'll respect you. If they don't get what they expect, they can make your life as a leader difficult. Here are a few of the most common expectations from employees who don't show much respect for their managers:

1. "Don't treat us like mushrooms. Give me the big picture."

Many employees just don't have the big picture. Usually they have a great sense of their own duties. They want desperately to contribute in a positive way to the organization's goals. But they often don't fully understand what those goals are. Employees respect leaders who give them more information, rather than less. By giving employees only the information you think they need, deprives them of the opportunity to contribute to the big picture.

2. "Show an interest in my development."

Recent studies have shown that on-the-job learning opportunities keep people interested in their jobs. In addition, using growth or individual development plans to help employees stay focused and committed. Managers can develop trust and respect by showing an interest in the individual interests and development needs of each employee. Sitting down with each employee on a regular basis to talk about their career can only develop better relationships.

3."Have the guts to hold everyone accountable."

One of the fastest ways to destroy morale and the employee's will to do more is to allow the slackers to slack. Managers who address performance issues head on are seen as strong leaders with clear vision. Those managers who allow poor performance to continue face the impacts, not only from the poor performer, but from those who perform at the highest levels. Who wants to work hard when a colleague slacks off and gets the same or similar rewards? It's an equity issue.

4."Get into the trenches once in awhile."

In one work group, the biggest complaint was that their manager did not know what they did. Their function was clerical in nature and the manager, when asked, said, "It's simple. They greet the public and file paperwork. How hard can that be?" In reality, the manager had never done the job. He had no idea what kinds of complaints the staff heard about the process. He had not experienced an eight-hour shift standing behind a counter. He had not experienced brief 30-minute lunch periods. He lived in a different world and they did not respect him. Had he spent one day a month or one hour a week behind the counter, working side-by-side with them, his perspective about the job would have been different and their perspective of him would have changed.

5. "Be human."

In today's complex world, we cannot afford to recognize that employees have a life outside of work. And, in some cases, this life presents difficult challenges. The respected manager shows compassion, listens, and makes allowances where possible to show a human side. This doesn't mean the manager is a counselor. On the contrary, the manager must keep the goals of the work unit clear; however, the respected manager is flexible enough to help employees through the rough times.

All of us want to be respected. We want people to believe what we say -- to trust us. To ensure that your staff has genuine respect for you, consider these five requests as the starting blocks.

Marnie E. Green is Principal Consultant of the Arizona-based Management Education Group, Inc. She is the author of Painless Performance Evaluations: A Practical Approach to Managing Day to Day Employee Performance (Pearson/Prentice Hall). Green is a speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations develop leaders today for the workforce of tomorrow. Contact Green at Marnie Green may be contacted at


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