How to gain respect from employees

We start teaching children about respect at a young age because it’s important, helping to foster feelings of trust, safety and well-being. We tell kids to “treat others the way they want to be treated,” generally meaning that accepting others for who they are will allow the same to happen to them, no matter our differences as individuals. This is a vital life lesson; we want children to feel safe in their own skin and show their ideas and opinions matter.

However, an issue can arise when we take this idea to the extreme, with the phrase, “respect isn’t given, it’s earned.” It’s pretty common, generally meaning that you have to work to be respected by others, essentially proving your worth. And this is true for when we think of respect in terms of admiration for someone, their personal character, their values, or their work. Obviously, you need to do something worth reverence if you want others to look up to you. But this is clearly a higher level of respect. 

Beneath that, there is a baseline level of respect that people tend to forget about. It’s the level of courtesy that you give other people, simply because you recognize that other people are equal to you. Not everyone has to automatically have your admiration without working for it, but everyone deserves basic courtesy. Respect needing to be earned does not apply to the smallest amount of human decency that should be present in your daily interactions with others. 

Leaders don’t automatically gain respect from their employees; they need to earn respect by demonstrating that they value employees and prioritize their growth. Managers can earn more respect by improving their communication with employees and explaining important decisions. Gaining the respect of employees is important for management, because it improves workplace morale and can provide greater motivation among workers to be productive.

How Do You Gain Respect from Employees?

Managers can gain the respect of employees by standing up for their best interests and offering strong, professional leadership. Here are 10 tips on how to gain respect from employees:

Give Respect: If you want your direct reports to respect you, it’s important that you first show them the respect they deserve. Treat all your workers fairly and demonstrate that you value them with your words and actions. Listen to their concerns and do your best to address them. Communicate clearly with your employees and explain important decisions to them. If you treat your staff members well, they will likely reciprocate the respect you show them.

Show Your Work Ethic: It’s important that good managers lead by example. Demonstrate through your work ethic and contributions that you’re a reliable member of the team worthy of your employees’ trust. Provide the lead on projects when appropriate and be sure you’re not pushing your workload onto employees.

Be Consistent: Consistency is key among strong, respected leaders. You should be consistent in your leadership approach and your expectations of people, so they always understand what’s expected of them. If your leadership style changes from time to time — if, for example, you give your employees freedom to make decisions with a hands-off approach, but suddenly micromanage a new project — they’ll be confused and unsure of what you need from them. Being consistent builds trusts and helps earn the respect of your team.

Be a Firm Leader: Managers who are pushovers with their workers don’t gain the respect of employees. Make decisions and stick to them if you feel it’s the right choice, even if it’s not popular with everyone. If you decide you need to change course in order to improve your approach, you’re free to change your mind, just be sure you’re doing it because it’s what’s best for the business and the team, not because it’s a more popular choice with employees.

Admit Your Wrongdoings: Leaders are human and just like your employees, you’ll make mistakes from time to time. It’s important that you own up to your wrongdoings and show your employees through example how to bounce back from a mistake. Always do everything you can to fix your errors and don’t be afraid to ask for help correcting a mistake. Your workers will notice and respect you for it.

Seek Out New Opinions: You hired your employees for a reason, so be respectful of their opinions and open to their suggestions on new ways of doing things. Being open to new opinions shows that you’re flexible and committed to following the best ideas, not just the ones you come up with yourself.

Recognize Successes: You can earn the respect of employees by rewarding them for their accomplishments. Find out how each employee likes to be recognized, whether it’s public praise or a private congratulations. Rewarding employees in the way they wish to be recognized demonstrates you care for them and creates a supportive work environment.

Seek Out Feedback: To get respect, don’t assume employees will come to you when they have feedback about your leadership or criticisms of the company culture. Schedule regular check-ins with employees where they’re free to discuss how things are going. Ask specific questions that address your management and accept any criticism in a positive, thoughtful manner.

Don’t Micromanage: Tell your employees what work has to be done and set clear deadlines for completion, but don’t tell them how to do their jobs. Delegating tasks and trusting your employees to complete them is key to gaining the respect of your workers. Let them know you’re available if they have any issues or want to talk through a project, but don’t micromanage how they approach their work.

Have Their Backs: Stick up for your employees and show that you have their backs. If an issue comes up with a project, you should shoulder the blame for the problem as the boss, rather than passing the blame off on your workers. On the flipside, if you receive praise and rewards from upper management for a successful project, make sure to spread the praise around and publicly recognize the role your employees played in the success.