Eye rolls, whispering comments, and ignored emails. When the workplace starts feeling like you're back in middle school, it's clear that you've lost the respect of your employees. Before you start firing everyone in sight, step back and ask yourself, "What went wrong?"

Leadership is demanding. Missing targets and answering to shareholders is stressful to say the least. You may not have realized it, but you could have projected this stress onto your team, turning them against you.

Have you been completely MIA over the past few months? When you're never in the office, it's impossible for you to actually lead, inspire, and cultivate your team. A leader that's not present is just as harmful as one that yells at employees in every meeting.

Or perhaps the issue is that you're unable to make decisions, avoiding confrontation, and making excuses for under-performers are all signs that you have fallen into the friend zone. Don't get sucked into the hype of being a "cool boss" by always remembering that you are the leader and your employees need guidance and support, not a best friend.

If you want to create a strong culture and build a thriving workplace, you need to change how you communicate and start owning your actions. Here are three skills to begin earning back your employees' respect.

Asking For Feedback

Let's be honest. Feedback is uncomfortable. It can hit you where it hurts. However, it's so important if you want to develop your relationships and turn things around. By re-framing how you look at feedback, you'll start to see its value and benefit from the rewards.

As a leader, asking for feedback should be a non-negotiable. It's the only way to create a transparent culture that will earn the respect of your employees, so they feel valued. In return, this helps your company perform better.

Now it's time for you to open your doors, so you can come out better on the other side. There are three key things that you must do in order to have a transparent feedback culture. The first is to have one-on-one conversations to build trust. The second is to be accepting to all feedback (positive or negative). Finally, create solutions that you can put into action.

Acting Assertive

Learning how to communicate the right way is key when you are in a leadership position. Without proper communication you'll be faced with a whole slew of problems (employees quitting and a toxic culture, to name a few).

We all need to be reminded of the difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. It's an easy line to cross without a practical understanding of what it means to be assertive.

The effects of being an aggressive leader are harmful to your company culture and can make your employees feel underappreciated, discouraged, and dull. But let's be real, being assertive is not as easy as it sounds.

So what can leaders do to earn the respect of their employees and avoid the title of office bully? Remember to be self-aware, listen, give feedback in a helpful way, be open to ideas, and always be direct. An admired and respected leader with these skills will be able to compel their team to achieve more in the workplace.

Being Vulnerable

Most of us, myself included, at some point have looked at vulnerability as a weakness, but having a "never let 'em see you sweat" attitude is holding you back as a leader. Only allowing your team to see your triumphs is losing you respect because people can't relate to perfection.

It's time to break down barriers and ditch your perfect persona by showing your human side. Create more genuine relationships with your employees by asking for ideas and admitting when you make mistakes.

Give your company a competitive edge by bonding over non-work related topics. Think outside the box. Getting to know each other doesn't have to be boring. Host a company potluck, field-trip or sports day and watch your team's morale and productivity take off.