How to Gain Trust & Respect From Subordinates

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Try not to be too aloof from your employees.
Try not to be too aloof from your employees. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

The trust and respect of subordinates, or employees, doesn’t come automatically with a manager’s job title. Like every other aspect of the job, it has to be earned. Think back to how you used to view your managers. How did they earn, or fail to earn, your own trust and respect? In our headlong rush to accomplish an epic number of tasks in a minimum amount of time, it’s easy to forget that employees are people, too. Following these simple pointers will help you earn the respect and trust of your staff.

Spend time with your staff. While your workload may demand that you spend a lot of time at your desk, remember that you were once a regular employee who expected to see your boss every once in awhile. Although your office work is important, and your employees need to see you working at it, work to find a balance between getting your assignments accomplished and keeping in touch with your people.

Take time to listen. When an employee brings a concern to you, make sure that you listen to him carefully and intently, allowing him to fully express his concerns. If the employee is angrily venting, however, invite him to step into your office, or at least out of earshot of everyone else. Not only does the employee feel he will be listened to, you gain control of the potential morale destruction his venting could cause, and you show the other employees that you are willing to take their concerns seriously.

Remember to never reprimand an employee for an error in front of other employees. Help the employee to save face by calling her into your office to discuss the situation. Try to preface the bad news with good news (“You did a good job on ABC. When you got to XYZ, however, this happened”), and don’t try to force her to give a precise explanation. Explain what happened and what the ramifications are, and get her input on what caused the problem. Then work with the employee to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Be careful when handing out praise and good assignments to spread them equally among the employees. You will undoubtedly have people on your staff whom you like more than others and those whom you like less. Don’t reward lackluster or lazy performance, of course. Make certain that your rewards are based on verifiable performance standards and nothing else.

Treat each employee's performance appraisal individually. When faced with the task of writing a dozen performance appraisals, for example, some managers will take a cookie-cutter approach and make them all the same in order to save time. Instead, assess the employee's performance and not your personal feelings about him. Don’t let your emotions get in the way of being fair to the employee.

Tips & Warnings

  • Employees trust and respect managers and supervisors who listen to them and treat them as individuals. Treat each individual fairly and you'll be just fine.
  • Be careful to avoid developing close friendships with your employees. View them all as your friends, but remember that friendships are for outside the office. Work is work. It's hard enough to lay off an employee without having to terminate your best friend.

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References

  • "The 1999 Training and Performance Sourcebook"; Mel Silberman; 1999
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