Three people stand in a circle in a large room with glass-and-steel walls, possibly part of a garage or manufacturing plant. The man standing in the middle of the circle has gray hair and wears a light blue button-up shirt. He is speaking to the woman on the left with a serious look on his face. The woman has blonde hair and wears a dark blue polo. Behind her is a computer terminal. The third person is in the foreground off to one side, with his back to the viewer.
A good leader is one who leads with action. Instead of giving orders from behind a desk, try working alongside your employees to better understand their duties and processes. — Getty Images/Tom Werner

It's challenging to gain people's confidence. And for new managers, the path to earning respect can feel like an uphill battle. But the benefits are worth the effort. Respect in the workplace increases employee engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction. It also makes your job easier.

The phrase “respect is earned” rings true, and your actions can help you get the trust and admiration of your staff. Explore the following six tactics to gain respect as a new manager.

Give dignity and respect

Employees want to feel heard and valued. However, 57% of respondents to a Pew Research Center survey said one of the reasons for quitting their job was "feeling disrespected at work." Before you can gain respect, you must treat your staff with dignity and gratitude. This involves acting appreciative of your team and being understanding yet firm when mistakes are made.

Focus on soft skills, such as:

  • Self-awareness.
  • Empathy.
  • Self-regulation.
  • Social skills.
  • Communication.

Be consistent in your approach

Uniformity is essential for the sake of fairness and logic. In contrast, inconsistency breeds suspicion and frustration. Be consistent in every aspect of your leadership, from handling discipline to delegating tasks. This includes recognizing when you favor a friend or prejudge someone's abilities.

Strive to make every employee feel valued by getting to know each person individually. Remember that "negative feedback should never be a public conversation," as Jodi Glickman, CEO and Founder of the leadership development firm Great On The Job, told Monster.

[Read more: What Is Mindful Leadership?]

Lead with action

Leadership Speaker, Author, and Human Behavior Expert Betsy Allen-Manning said, "If you want your employees to work hard, you need to show them that you're a hard worker." And that isn't easy to do when you're locked in your office. Sure, your bosses expect you to complete your managerial duties. But it would help if you also spent time working side-by-side with your staff.

You should learn what each of your direct reports does and be able to help if you see them struggling. Instead of telling another employee to step up, lead by example. Jump in to manage the cash register or help unload inventory. Run food to a table or greet people at the door. If there's downtime, pick a project like cleaning or organizing public areas. Start doing the work, and others will join in.

Negative feedback should never be a public conversation.

Jodi Glickman, communications expert and CEO/founder, Great on the Job

Support your team

Your role as a manager is to guide your direct reports and have their backs. As part of the team, you'll learn about the problems employees face and get wind of dissatisfaction about office processes, policies, or politics. You may hear things that upper management or business owners don't. Be an advocate for your staff and find solutions that work for them while satisfying your bosses.

Bobby Powers, Director of Employee Experience at The Block, said, "Managers face a litany of decisions that require them to side with their team or another group within the company. Little things like this build tension and pressure, like shaking a soda can. Every time a manager sides against his or her team, the manager/team relationship is fractured."

[Read more: Elevate Your Effectiveness as a Leader With Storytelling]

Be accountable for your words and actions

Mistakes happen. You may handle an employee conflict less graciously than desired or make an error on the schedule. The best thing you can do is to own up to your missteps instead of pointing fingers. Johnna Lacey, Nonprofit Consultant and Leadership Development Trainer, said, "Passing the blame to others shows your team you are unreliable and cannot be trusted."

Telling your team that you regret losing your cool earns more respect than ignoring it happened. Admitting that you rushed through the schedule and apologizing for the effects on your workforce is better than excuses about being too busy.

Encourage input and listen to your team

Active listening shows your staff that they are valued and that their voice matters. Let everyone share ideas and collaborate on business or department goals. Author, Business Coach, Speaker, and Strategy Consultant Jeff Gibbard told SHRM, "Managers think the job of a leader is to talk to people, but it's really to listen. Listen to their goals and objectives. Give them some feeling of value in their work." Allen-Manning suggested asking employees to "come up with solutions to work issues" or "for creative ways to reach a goal."

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Published December 12, 2022