Respect Your Employees

RBLP Staff – Building and Leading Resilient Teams Series

Respect Your Employees

Leaders must learn to show respect for all members of the team. Doing so is more nuanced than ever. The work environment is dynamic, an ever-changing landscape that leaders must constantly strive to master.

Learning to demonstrate respect for every member of your team can make the difference between a divided, siloed, unproductive workplace, and one that moves smoothly and steadily toward the team’s objectives.

Respect at the mile-high level requires active listening by the leader, plus the daily practice of three basic skills: fairness, consistency, and inclusivity. But mastering each of these has become more demanding as much-needed diversity and inclusivity reforms have swept through the work environment.

First, let’s talk about the “why” as in “Why should I do this?” Research tells us that people who report to leaders who earn their respect have higher job satisfaction, and greater engagement, and are far more productive than those who do not respect their boss. Those are the elements of success on the job.

But how to earn that level of respect? Let’s talk about fairness. Does everyone on the team have the opportunity to contribute to how the work is done? Does everyone have a chance to speak up at team meetings? Do you, as the leader, delegate only to a select few? Or does everyone have the opportunity to take on a challenge and show what they can do?

In other words, don’t play favorites. Guard especially against any tendencies to exclude certain members of the team from any facet of the work. For instance, new hires who help your team achieve a better diversity balance need to be acknowledged for their skills, not gender, skin color, or any other “difference maker.”

Fairness requires you to make sure your people feel heard. Work hard on active listening skills. Show people that you hear them by responding to their input–even if it’s to say, “Sorry I don’t think that will happen.” Explain why. Those who voice their views and receive a thoughtful response from you will feel good simply because you valued them enough to listen and respond.

If you are fair and consistent with your team, intentional inclusivity will follow. Inclusivity does not stop when you achieve a workforce balanced by diversity. Inclusivity implies that no one will be barred from full engagement in the work process. If someone is reluctant to speak out in meetings without prompting, then prompt them. You may have to prepare them in one-on-one sessions to build their confidence. Or perhaps their best input will only happen with you. Make the effort to ensure that each voice is heard and that no one is inadvertently overlooked. Your extra effort will be rewarded.

Treating your people with respect requires self-policing. In all likelihood, no one on the team will bring shortfalls in this critical area to your attention. You need to be proactive in examining your own actions with respect this ever-evolving leadership skill.