Thursday, May 21, 2015

6 Ways to Earn & Maintain Your Staff’s Respect

Guest post by Rosalinda Randall:

You can’t lead anyone else any further than
you have gone yourself.” –Unknown

Can’t get your staff to do what you tell them to do? Do you live by the old adage, “Do as I say, not as I do?” 

Leading a team or staff of one is not an easy task. Providing guidelines, policies, and sometimes frequent reminders is helpful. But the most powerful tool of all is setting an example.  Sure, commands, instilling fear of being fired, and “because I said so” might get the job done for a while or in the immediate—but, in the long-term, you’ll never gain your staff’s respect, you’ll lose valuable employees, and never be invited to lunch.

What can you do to earn or regain your staff’s respect? I’m glad you asked.

Here’s how you can get started:

1.    Get to work on time. That is, if you expect your staff to do the same. And if you do stroll in late, apologize to them and get to work.
·    If you will be late, let them know in advance. It’s just respectful. This allows them to tackle other tasks while waiting for your approval on pending tasks.
·    Call if you are unexpectedly detained. With the dawn of cell phones, this is a practical and proven method of communicating.

2.    Ease up on taking a lot of extra perks. It’s a quick way to lose your staff’s respect and create resentment. Enjoying well-earned perks is a perk, however, when your enjoyment of said perks infiltrates your day to day tasks, your staff will take notice.
·    Your position will no doubt allow you to take a few liberties, like a longer lunch now and then, working from home, or enjoying a bigger office. Don’t get caught taking advantage of or boasting about it. Don’t worry, they notice.  

3.    Remain impartial. Friendship can blossom with a member of your support staff; if it does:
·     Don’t hide it; that will only create needless attention to the relationship.
·     Don’t hold special private meetings in your office. It can easily lead to and be construed as conflict of interest and/or bring about doubt in confidentiality boundaries.
·    Don’t use the relationship for personal gain. Expecting a bigger raise or approved time-off can quickly turn a friendship into a law suit. And, if that friendship happens to turn romantic, you’ve now entered into treacherous grounds. In fact, before proceeding, check with the policies and procedures manual you signed.  
·    Don’t discuss your off-the-clock activities during on-the-clock hours. Apply common sense. Coworkers may begin to distance themselves from your “friend,” hence, bringing about tension among your staff, possibly leading to gossip which can lead to lack of productivity. Not a good thing.
4.    Communicate professionally. After all, you set the standard of civility for the entire office.
·    Don’t allow anger to get the best of you. Everyone experiences frustration which can lead to anger; find a way to control it. If you don’t, after a while your staff will become apathetic to your outbursts and/or find you amusing by comparing you to their three year old child’s tantrums. Don’t use curse words. If one should slip out, apologize to those around you.
·    Don’t raise your voice. How does that help make your point or change the situation? Besides after a while, it’ll turn into the ol’ “in one ear…out the other.”
·    Don’t berate or point out a staff member’s mistake in front of others. Oh, you don’t have a private office with a door? Take a walk to the conference room. Ask the employee to stay after work for a few minutes. Take him/her out to lunch to discuss the problem. Find a way to maintain that person’s privacy and dignity.
·    Don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you.” Without saying “please” it becomes a command instead of a request. “Thank you” expresses your gratitude. By the way, individually, these phrases take one-second to say; I timed it.  

5.    Take responsibility for your mistakes. This includes your staff’s, as well.
·    Don’t hesitate to apologize. For some it takes courage to admit they are wrong. A sincere apology not only sets things straight, but earns the respect of others.
·    Don’t overreact, make excuses, or lie. Um, how will this help the situation and your reputation?
·     Graciously accept the consequences and fix it. Try a more positive and productive approach by exemplifying a “how do we fix it” attitude. 

6.    Share the glory. Could you have succeeded without your staff?
·    Acknowledge them privately and publicly. No need to buy balloons and tiaras, but a sincere and brief statement of gratitude is always welcome.
·    Show your appreciation, at least occasionally. Depending on the company’s policy and your budget, consider bringing in coffee/tea, taking your staff out to lunch, giving a gift card, approving an hour off, or offering a compliment. 

A title may warrant authority and respect, but it’s not necessarily genuine; respect is earned through consistent words and actions that exemplify leadership.

Written and submitted by: Rosalinda Randall, Civility Consultant, author of "Don't Burp in the Boardroom. Handling Uncommonly Common Workplace Dilemmas."
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