Unless Michael Scott is your management hero, you probably care more about getting results than getting your reports to like you. That’s as it should be: it’s too much to ask people to do what you tell them to do and validate you at the same time. But that doesn’t mean that you should be indifferent to how your team feels. To be most effective, you need to build the kind of relationship where your people have trust in both your judgment and your discretion. Building respect should be one of your top priorities.
“People naturally want to do their best for those they feel respected by,” writes Victor Lipman at Forbes. “There’s nothing complicated about it: Employees respond well to being treated well. It puts them in a favorable productive mindset. As the old military saying goes, Take care of your people and they’ll take care of you.”
Further, Lipman says, “people resent not being respected, and a resentful attitude is never conducive to productivity.”
So how do you show respect for the people on your team?
1. Make communication a priority.
Being a manager is hard, because you often have a wider view from your perch on the corporate ladder. You can’t always tell your team what you know – for example, if the company is restructuring or changing in a big way. But you can be as open as possible about the information you are allowed to share, and be a conduit, not a wall. Commit to making sure your people are in the loop about the things they need to know in order to do their job.
This means making time to meet with your people one-on-one to catch up on what’s going on with them and with the company, and sharing tough news as soon as possible, whether it’s performance-related or organizational.
2. Listen more than you speak.
The higher you rise, the harder it is to see the detail on the ground. To really get the full picture of what’s going on with your team, you need to be prepared to listen when one of your reports has something to say. That can be a challenge, especially when you’re dealing with a vocal team member, but don’t assume you’re listening to baseless complaining right off the bat. You might miss out on intel you could use to make better decisions.
3. Keep your word.
Say what you mean and do what you say you’re going to do. If you promise less than you deliver, you might deal with some momentary frustration on the part of your reports, but you won’t lose their trust in the long run.
If you can’t follow through, let the other person know as soon as possible. You can’t always control your schedule, but you can control how you communicate a change in plans.
4. Keep confidences.
It’s easier to build trust than to rebuild it. Ideally, you want your team to know that they can share their concerns with you, without repercussion. If you break their confidence and tell others something they’ve told you in secret, you’ll have a hard road in front of you to convince them to trust you again.
5. Be generous.
“Real managing is about growth and caring,” writes Penelope Trunk. “It’s about taking time to see what skills people need to develop to move in the direction they want to move, and then helping them get those skills. This means that you need to sit with the person and find out what matters to them. And then you need to sit with yourself and figure out how you can help the person. Most people don’t see management as listening and thinking, but that’s what it is. Because that’s what caring about someone looks like.”
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