You’re the Boss, How do You Get Respect?

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

There is nothing worse than a boss who commands respect and manages employees out of fear. Try that approach at your own peril, and get comfortable with less productive employees who will always have one foot out the door looking for a more fertile opportunity. The arrogance that comes with a little bit of power blinds many, but a leader recognizes the value in retaining current employees.

Attrition impacts the bottom line for any organization. Consider the financial impact obtaining a new employee: wages for a recruiter, time spent interviewing, and the cost of background checks. Now think about the money spent once they are in the door: salary for someone to train them, and reduced productivity while they get up to speed.

Minimizing turnover doesn’t preclude you from managing your staff and setting expectations. As a boss, that’s part of the job. But remember, the broader goal is to motivate, support, and cultivate an environment that yields solid returns. Setting expectations and motivating employees go hand in hand. Balancing this properly will quickly elicit respect from your staff. It is amazing what a team of employees who have “bought in” will do for the company as they attempt to exceed your expectations.

Earned respect is the holy grail of increased productivity in the workplace.

You earn this respect by not being a boss in the traditional way of thinking. It’s not about a higher pay grade or the clothes (well, maybe a little). It’s about relating to the team, understanding what their needs are, and finding ways to serve them.

If you are preparing dinner and notice someone trying to eat your soup with a fork, you’d stop and find them a spoon. It’s no different in the office. It takes a finely tuned ear. Listen to the needs of the staff and ensure they have the necessary tools and resources to complete the job. Spend time speaking with personnel, relaying questions and demonstrating a vested interest in their pain points.

Good bosses all have this in common: they listen, analyze, and execute.

Upon securing my first leadership position, I was charged with overseeing a team of 12 employees. Many had been colleagues and friends just a day earlier. Now I was supposed to manage them? In search of a way to earn their respect, I used my recent status as a peer to galvanize them.

Meeting with the staff and expressing the obstacles I recognized while working as a member of the team fostered healthy discussions and feedback among everyone. This allowed me to analyze the situation and execute meaningful changes. The team saw that I was on a mission to serve them, to make the job easier. Their respect came soon after.

That doesn’t mean that everything was smooth sailing. Several times the team missed a goal or deadline, but when addressing the issue, I made it clear that “WE” failed (myself included). I also didn’t forget to celebrate the times “WE” succeeded. This demonstrated a vested partnership and allowed them to reciprocate. That’s when we really started to yield big returns.

Being a boss means celebrating when the team succeeds, and self-evaluating when they fail. Their failure is your failure. Own it. It’s not merely a platitude about leading by example, it’s the lifeline to their respect. The future pool of potential up-and-coming leaders are watching you. Break the cycle, and model for them what it really means to be a boss.

Antonio Parente writes for Ten Pens, which tells the story of men through humorous, thought-provoking articles on culture, sports, entertainment, style, and industry. Follow Antonio on Twitter.