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Four Ways to Earn Respect

February 23, 2006

Respect. For a manager, it might be the most important quality of all.

If you command respect, your bosses will listen to you and your employees will follow you. People will admire you and want to be like you.

Lose respect and your effectiveness suffers, along with any opportunities for advancement. Employees are more likely to challenge you. Others will simply ignore you, as if you no longer exist.

But what is respect, exactly?

It's a feeling people have about you after observing you for a while. They watch how you handle various situations, especially stressful ones. In particular, they watch how you treat other people, even if you're not always aware of it.

The good news is that, regardless of how you're perceived today - whether you're highly respected or not so well-respected - you can always improve your standing. Every day brings with it a fresh new opportunity to build on your reputation and to earn the respect of others, particularly your employees. Here's how.

1. Set Clear Boundaries

People need to know what they're responsible for and what's expected of them. Establish clear limits, but keep rules and restrictions to a minimum. Choose your battles carefully. Give people as much independence as possible, so as to help promote individual responsibility.

Only set limits you intend to enforce. Sooner or later, someone will test you to see if you are really serious about them. That's why it's equally important that you take action promptly any time a boundary has been crossed. Employees lose respect for managers who establish rules and then never enforce them.

2. Model Desired Behavior

Treat people with dignity and kindness. In our society, there are a few roles that tolerate, and even reward mean behavior. However, management is not one of them.

Employees respect managers who treat them, as well as others with respect.

Demonstrate the very behaviors you expect from your employees: for example, consideration, civility, and thoughtfulness.

Recognize and reward good performance. Give credit where credit is due.

Tell the truth. Keep your promises, and always abide by the ethical standards of your business or profession.

3. Stay Positive

As a manager, people look to you for leadership. They want to feel assured that someone is in charge and that the organization is on the right track.

This requires that you maintain a positive outlook. Stay focused on the future, especially through the tough times.

Avoid sarcasm. Don't complain or blame others for failures or setbacks. Refrain from criticizing upper management. These behaviors don't enhance a person's stature as a leader in the organization.

4. Take an Interest in People

Get to know your employees on a personal level. Talk with them on a regular basis.

Help people become successful. Work with them to set personal career goals. Give them challenging assignments that stretch their abilities.

Praise employees for their accomplishments and offer encouragement when they fall short.

Practice these behaviors and you will most certainly earn the respect of your employees. That, in turn will enable you to have a tremendous impact on them and on the entire organization.

Best regards,

Stephen Foster, Ph.D., SPHR
Expert Supervisor, LLC
1493 Market Street
Tallahassee, FL 32312
(850) 893-5699

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