There are no two opinions about the fact that respect is an essential component of any professional relationship to develop and prosper. But, what is often ignored is the fact that respect is a two-way street, and is not relative to one’s rank or position. As much as employees need to respect their bosses and managers, the reverse is also applicable for fostering healthy and mutually beneficial ties. However, many do not understand the importance of making their employees feel valued, and the necessity to accord them the respect they are entitled to.
'I don’t feel respected by my boss', is statement we make or hear too often, but miss our own role in this dynamic. Much like your boss, you have to work hard to earn respect from your superiors, for you are yet to prove yourself; but working towards the same isn’t as hard as you would imagine it to be. By keeping in mind a few simple values and practices, you can make sure that your boss takes notice of you and respects your work:
Stick to your word
When asked to finish a task in ten days, do not promise to deliver it in a week, when you know you can’t. It is tempting to promise doing more work in less time, but if that means the quality going down, it is better to set a realistic deadline – and more important to stick to it. It is also essential to admitting that you made a mistake, and sticking by what you said or promised earlier; and not going back on it. Small gestures like being on time, to office or for meetings, make more difference than you think.
Talk solutions, not problems
The next time you speak in a meeting or group; notice what your contribution is. Are you merely pointing out the flaws and challenges, or also providing solutions to them? Being critical and voicing your concern is not a bad thing, unless you can come with an alternative to the suggested approach. Furthermore, if you are able to pose possible solutions to challenges in their nascence, or before they start having a major impact, your boss and colleagues will obviously look up to you.
Make yourselves heard
This doesn’t imply to be overly vocal or loud at a meeting or discussion, but making sure that if you happen to have relevant information or experience regarding an on-going discussion, you convey it. Standing up for the values that you believe in, or for your boss or colleagues when needed, is a great indicator of a strong character. Looking the other way when you know something is wrong might help you in the moment, but will cost you in the long run for sure.
Use skills and pursue weaknesses
Make sure you pull your weight in a team, and contribute all your skills. If you provide innovative solutions, or fresh perspectives to challenges, you are bound to be respected naturally. In the same line of thought, do not be afraid to admit your lack of knowledge and expertise in a particular field, be willing to learn. If you live by the virtue of working on your weaknesses until you master them, respect will accompany it automatically.
You cannot expect people around you to respect you, if you are not good at what you do; and deep down you always know the truth. Be willing to work hard, walk the extra mile and take initiative for shouldering responsibilities that go beyond your carefully worded job description. Do not feel entitled to promotion or a raise, or even appreciation. Avoid the mistake many make, and calculate your work in terms of the effort put in and the result, and not in terms of the amount of time spent on it.
Don’t succeed by bringing someone else down
You can be assertive and strong, without being outright mean or rude. Being a team player, and watching out for colleagues might not seem like a big deal, but remember if you throw somebody else under the bus to save yourself, you boss, and colleagues will remember you for it. Demonstrate your trust, and loyalty, to the team and to the organisation, and live up to it. Remember, you can be nice, and still be successful.
Some people evoke respect naturally, and some rise to the occasion, but one thing is for sure; manipulating or commanding others into respecting you might work like a charm in the short-term, but is never sustainable. Earning respect of the people you work with, specially your boss, isn’t as tough as you think, if you are honest, hard-working, committed and are willing to stand up for what is right.