Do you have a question about supervising that you would like me to answer here? If so, please put it in a comment after this post or any that preceded it. This series will continue based on those questions, so please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks.
” How does showing respect help a supervisor minimize the damage created by prior mistakes made with their employees?” That’s the gist of the question I left you with at the end of Episode # 6.
Employees want from you what you want from them.
They want to feel respected, all the time–when they do things well and when they make a mess of things.
In the workplace, employees correctly believe they have a right to be respected, particularly by those people so lovingly known as “the higher ups.”
They expect policies to respect their dignity and sense of fairness. They expect the words and actions directed toward them by their supervisors, coworkers, and senior officials to be respectful.
Aretha Franklin’s song taught a lot of people how to spell RESPECT, but not necessarily how to demonstrate it.
Respect is an effect of behaviors, actions, and words. We all size up intent by how and what others say to and about us and others like us. We come to interactions with our bosses or coworkers with either thick or thin skin, trust or suspicion, good or unpleasant prior experiences. It’s a human thing.
The bottom line is:
Supervisors earn the respect of their employees by showing respect in every interaction, no matter the situation.
That sounds easy enough until you factor in personalities–yours and your employees.
Here’s the struggle: Your interpersonal style at work is generally honed while you are an individual contributor, working with peers. As soon as you become the supervisor–boss man or boss woman–your status in the workplace changes. You now have authority over others.
Supervisors dole out assignments, create the working atmosphere, assess the good or poor performance of employees, recommend raises and promotions or not. Suddenly, you’re the one who can make or break the success of the people who report to you.
As the supervisor, you won’t necessarily like every one of your employees, for good reasons or indefensible ones. No one comes to work and leaves their human nature at home. But as the supervisor, you’re supposed to be aware of your impulses and control them.
Your job, then, is pretty straight-forward:
To create and sustain an atmosphere of fairness and safety where each employee can successfully complete his or her work as required.
It’s often easier said than done.
Commit to courtesy.
Earning employee respect starts with a commitment to treating every person with courtesy.
That may seem obvious but you need to look at your behavior, listen to what you’re saying or not saying to your employees, and check out your body language. One person’s tongue-in-check comment delivered with no harm intended may be heard by an employee as an inexcusable offense.
Not everyone knows what it means to be courteous or how to practice it consistently.
Good supervisors practice acknowledging their employees in positive ways–not some people but everyone. That doesn’t mean stopping at a every cubicle or job site every day, but when your path crosses with one of your employees, make it clear that you notice them with a positive word or gesture.
You often just need to smile, greet, wave, stop and chat, or lend a hand if needed. Easy enough, right? But to earn respect across the board, you need to do this with everyone–the employee you had an open disagreement with, one who always scowls at you, the employee who never looks up from his or her desk, and one who simply irritates you.
Everyone is watching how you treat people. You earn respect when you demonstrate that you value each employee in the work group a person, not just a worker.
Showing respect when trouble is afoot is a defining moment for supervisors. When you hold yourself together and honor the dignity of employees who have missed the mark, violated rules, conducted themselves unacceptably, or stepped over the line, you reach a new plateau.
We’re people first at work and then employees. Even if you have to discipline employees, withhold a raise, give a low rating, or assign an unwanted task, they will respect you if you show them respect in the process.