Last week I was invited by a local charity to give a talk. The charity is Oakleaf, who supports people with mental ill health, giving them the skills, confidence and training needed to return to the workplace.
My talk was for their Health Leaders sharing my own thoughts on practical ways employers can help their people feel valued and proud of the work they do – just one small step towards hopefully improving people’s well being at work.
Not forgetting of course the business benefits of how it contribute to productivity, staff retention and customer service.
I covered 5 core leadership actions and one of these was respect.
It’s often little actions (or lack of action) that can unwittingly leave a team feeling they’re not respected. And of course when this happens it can have a negative impact on their perception of the business, the importance of their role, or their relationship with colleagues.
Here are the 5 principles we discussed in relation to respecting your team:
This is something most people do without thinking.
That is until we’re having a bad day!
Failing to say a cheery good morning, checking in on how that big event went yesterday, asking about someone’s weekend or holiday, saying please and thank you – all get noticed when they’re missing, even if subconsciously, leaving people feeling unappreciated.
A sunny smile and a cheerful good morning sets everyone up for the day.
Treat your team with the same care, courtesy and respect as you’d like them to show your customers.
How you behave or talk about others when they are not present says a lot about your personal integrity.
Lack of integrity can undermine almost any other effort to create trust with your team. It goes beyond honesty. Integrity is conforming to the reality of our words – keeping promises and fulfilling expectations. One way of demonstrating integrity is to be loyal to those who are not present. Confidentiality about others in your team is paramount.
Show you care as much about your team as you do about the business and results.
Listen and observe so you can spot any staff concerns quickly. Left to fester these can snowball into bigger problems.
Help your team stay healthy. Simply ensuring people aren’t expected to work excessively long shifts back to back. Keep an eye out for anyone working excessively long hours or not taking their due days off or full holiday entitlement. It could be an early warning sign.
Provide support when needed and be receptive to when this is required; not everyone will be confident enough to ask for help. If you recognise they need help in areas you feel you don’t have the skills to deal with, support them in seeking help from someone who can.
Apologise when you let someone down.
Keep commitments. Do what you say you’ll do. Making a promise that’s important to someone and then not delivering on it suggests lack of respect.
It’s one thing to make a mistake, and quite another not to admit it. Sincere words – “I was wrong”, “I showed you no respect”, “I’m sorry”. It takes a great deal of character strength to apologise.
If lockdown taught us anything it’s the value of personal time.
Respect people’s personal lives and commitments. Don’t be so hell-bent on people’s contracted hours that you can’t allow somebody that flexibility to alter their hours or do something out of the norm.
Picking up the kids from nursery on time, attending their grandchild’s graduation, tending to a sick relative, attending a one off event that would mean so much to them, allowing time to get ready for a long awaited holiday or special occasion, celebrating personal or family milestones.
If you know these things mean a lot to them, give them that flexibility.
If you only do one thing:
Showing respect for your team is the first step to them respecting you and your business, so always think about what message your actions send to your team about how much you respect them.
Related article: Puffed up with Pride