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R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find Out What It Means

Whether we’re at the top of the pecking order at work (a somewhat small number) or further down the chain, being respected by peers, managers and others is something we all want. As much as we might wish otherwise, we know that our personal value doesn’t come with the job – it’s earned. But it’s critically important for ensuring our happiness and engagement in the workplace. It allows us to be seen as worth keeping around, as part of the team, and as deserving of challenges.

So how do we ensure that we gain respect? Well, that’s part of your serious shift. Cue the horn section.

We have to show we can do the work that’s expected of us, first and foremost. That means catching on quickly, doing our homework, and regularly being aligned with what’s expected of our performance.

We need to adjust our style of communication to fit the one that works best with the people we answer to. Some people want it only in emails, some in conversations. Some managers prefer to hear from you daily, weekly or on a need-to-know basis. Some want it in bullet points, others in micro detail. Is it analysis you’re expected to give, or opinion? And sometimes, what’s agreed upon between you and the people you answer to can change, so gauge that, discuss when necessary, and adapt.

What matters to those you work for should matter to you. The priorities on their plate, and the pressures that come with them, are yours as well. You’re there to help shoulder the weight. By empathizing and delivering, you demonstrate trustworthiness and a spirit of partnership. Be aware of the politics that can be involved within the organization’s dynamic, but avoid getting caught in them.

Play nice with your colleagues and be supportive. What they say about you matters up the chain. How you fit into the group dynamic matters. As I mentioned in a recent blog, remember to ask, “How can I help?” Watch and learn from what works among your colleagues in their interactions with management.

Always ensure constructive criticism is given one-to-one, in private and kindly. If it’s a new hire, don’t be reluctant to correct for fear of suppressing their enthusiasm; you want them to start off on the right footing and they want that too. If it’s a boss, they need to know they have your support and that you’re a partner in their success. Stating what may be perceived as an opposing view isn’t a negative, but it’s important to frame it correctly.

Ask for feedback, again in private. You need to know how you’re doing if that information isn’t forthcoming (and often it isn’t). It’s not that you’re looking for praise, but if it is, you’re missing the point: you ask to ensure that you’re delivering on what’s expected of you.

And if you think you aren’t being respected? Take a step back and look at the situation from the other person’s point of view. How are you coming across? How can you change that, or how can you change how they perceive that? Does the other person know all the facts as you see them? Talk it out. If all else fails, your attempts to salvage a situation will be easier to live with.



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