Being the boss isn't all fun and games. The promise of power can be alluring, but the reality of being responsible for a team of employees may not be as glamorous as you imagined.
You're a fallible human being managing a team of fallible human beings. You're bound to fail them from time to time, just as they're bound to fail you.
So in order to make this whole employee/employer relationship work and thrive, you're going to need a strong foundation of trust and respect. If you suspect this respect is lacking, here are 10 possible reasons why.
1. You don't let your employees play to their strengths.
One of the best pieces of business advice I've ever received is this: "Hire people smarter than yourself." This means being more selective about who you hire, and paying your employees what they're worth. But the tradeoff is that you have extremely high-quality individuals working on your behalf, and you can give them the freedom to play to their strengths.
In his book, Do Nothing: How to Stop Over Managing and Become a Great Leader, J. Keith Murnighan stresses the importance of delegating tasks to competent staff. He writes, "The key insight here is simple: you will be a more effective leader if, rather than doing the work yourself, you let other people do it. In other words, stop working and start leading." In other words, hire the most qualified people for the job and then give them the freedom to do what they do best.
2. You avoid conflict at all costs.
Great leaders aren't afraid to bring up difficult issues or to be confrontational (when necessary). While you may think that 'playing the nice guy' is a surefire strategy for gaining the respect of your employees, the opposite may actually be true.
By consistently avoiding conflict, you send the message that you're not confident in yourself or in your decisions. A strong leader doesn't shy away from uncomfortable situations, but instead approaches them confidently and with an eye to rectifying the situation.
3. You don't appreciate your employees (or at least you don't show it).
Someone once said, "A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected." A person who feels appreciated will also naturally feel more of an affinity and respect for the one doing the appreciating.
Your employees are the ones who are helping you grow your business. Show them the appreciation they deserve by being generous with your praise and encouragement, and by letting them know how integral they are to the success of your business.
4. You aren't reliable.
You expect your employees to show up for work on time, to meet their deadlines and to do what they've promised to do. But do you hold yourself to the same standards?
Your employees are watching you to see if you practice what you preach. When you miss a deadline, don't make excuses or assume no one noticed. Apologize and do better next time--just like you expect your employees to do.
5. You don't respect them.
According to recent research by Harvard Business Review, over half (54%) of employees feel they don't regularly get respect from their employers.
Respect is a two-way street. If you don't respect your employees, I can guarantee they aren't going to respect you. Calling them out in front of customers, failing to recognize their achievements, and not listening to their feedback are all signs you don't respect them.
I guess the question is, if you really don't respect them, why did you hire them? Why are they still working for you? Regardless of how you feel about them in any given moment, treating them with a basic level of respect is absolutely critical.
6. You offload blame onto others.
Arnold Glasow said, "A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit." Offloading blame onto your employees not only ensures they won't respect you, it also sets the standard for acceptable office behavior.
A great leader graciously accepts her fair share of the responsibility when things go wrong. This doesn't mean allowing yourself to become a scapegoat; it does mean claiming your mistakes as your own.
7. You don't care about their personal lives.
It would be unrealistic to think you need to know everything about your employees' personal lives. But there's a big difference between knowing everything and caring about the things you do know.
Pay attention when your employees tell you about their child being sick, or having to put their dog down, or their spouse being laid off. Express your concern, and remember to check in later to see how things are going. A little care and concern goes a long way to earning the trust and respect of your staff.
8. You aren't self-aware.
Great leaders are able to accurately gauge their own skills and abilities. Instead of assuming you know everything about everything, be realistic about your own strengths and weaknesses. Hire people who can fill the gaps, and then trust them to do their jobs.
According to one study, self-awareness in company leaders not only leads to increased respect, but to better strategic and financial results. The study states: "Interestingly, a high self-awareness score was the strongest predictor of overall success. This is not altogether surprising as executives who are aware of their weaknesses are often better able to hire subordinates who perform well in categories in which the leader lacks acumen. These leaders are also more able to entertain the idea that someone on their team may have an idea that is even better than their own."
9. You aren't a good communicator.
You expect your employees to communicate with you in an efficient manner, but do you pay them the same courtesy? Do you respond promptly to their emails? Do you actually listen when they come to you with ideas?
Effective communication is a skill, and one that must be practiced over time. If you're not modeling timely and effective communication with your employees, over time, the lines of communication will break down--as will their respect for you.
10. You're impossible to please.
Expecting your employees to be conscientious and to do their best is reasonable; demanding perfection is not. When you're constantly tearing apart their work or nitpicking at tiny details, you tell them they can never be good enough. And you know what happens when people feel like they're always falling short? At the least, they lose respect for you; at worst, they stop trying or even quit.
Getting your employees to respect you is all about earning that respect. Being a leader who's worthy of respect means taking responsibility for your mistakes, giving your employees the freedom to shine and providing strong but collaborative leadership.
What are some other reasons employers lose the respect of their employees? Share below!