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Respect at work: How to get it back if you’ve lost it

First, it’s the tardiness and extended lunches. Then, you notice assignments are taking longer than usual to complete. You start hearing more phrases like “I can’t” or “That’s not my job.” It’s time to face the facts: You’re a manager who’s losing respect at work, and you need to make some changes quickly — before your clients and employees decide that it’s time to go elsewhere.

When workers respect their managers and feel respected in return, they are more creative, motivated, energized and, ultimately, productive. Employees place a high value on having a manager they can respect and learn from.

If you need to re-establish yourself as a leader whom your employees hold in high regard, here are some tips:

1. Remember, appearances matter

Perhaps you’ve taken the casual dress code to an extreme. While it would seem odd to wear business attire when the company culture calls for jeans and T-shirts, try upgrading your work wardrobe to earn respect at work. You want to project an approachable yet polished image.

2. Communicate

The importance of employee communication cannot be overstated. Managers who don’t listen to their staff won’t know what’s going on in the office, including why they’re not respected. By setting up regular feedback sessions, not only will you convey to your workers that you value their opinions, but you also will get a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses.

3. Demonstrate your trust

Empower employees to take ownership. Encourage them to take risks, but make sure they know that you’ll back them up if things don’t turn out as expected. Show that you trust their good judgment.

4. Watch your mouth

Pay attention to your words and actions. If you’re getting less respect at work, it could be because you haven’t been behaving in a professional manner. Keep your language respectful and clean, be discrete when it comes to personal issues, and don’t openly criticize other workers or managers.

5. Know when to keep quiet

Tirades may earn fear, but never respect at work. Deal with sensitive work issues or frustrations at a private, individual level rather than broadcasting them during meetings. But the opposite is true when it comes to praise: Be generous and public when thanking people for a job well done.

6. Transfer your knowledge

As a manager, you have the potential to be a valued mentor and teacher. Instruction can be either direct, such as working with a staff member to improve a speech, or indirect, such as leading by example. Bonus: By transferring your knowledge and helping workers succeed, you are training the company’s next generation of leaders.

7. Be open-minded

Put your preconceptions aside and listen to an employee’s proposal with an unbiased perspective. If there’s a conflict, avoid making assumptions. Be fair, don’t show favoritism and give everyone the same chances to succeed.

8. Stay involved

Don’t be a hermit in your office or socialize with just senior management. Earn respect at work by making a point of chatting with workers in a casual setting, such as an office party or after-work drinks with the team. Get to know your employees, and let them get to know you.

9. Be transparent

The unknown is scary. Put yourself in your staff’s position. If the company has had to tighten budgets, they’re going to wonder if layoffs are coming, for example. When change is on the horizon, keep your employees in the loop as much as you can.

10. Know the limits

If workers are still disrespectful after all your attempts, or if one or two bad apples ratchet up their level of disdain, you need to take more drastic action. Let them know their behavior is unacceptable, and explain why it’s important to maintain a proper level of respect at work.

It’s not easy to gain back respect at work once you’ve lost it, but it is possible. Start by having a higher regard for yourself and your workers, which will likely lead them to reciprocate. And who wouldn’t respect that?