Friday, February 16, 2007

Management Part 2: Principles of Respect

Respect is one of the key ingredients of successful management. If your team does not respect you, they will hesitate to follow you. Each time something does not go as expected or you don’t follow up, the team will keep score. As time passes and you’ve done little or nothing to earn respect, your team will fall apart. To get respect, you must first give respect.

The following are five key principles on how to earn respect from your team:

1. Respect from the Beginning
Your team members have accepted the responsibilities of their job when they decided to join your team. Part of your responsibility is to respect them for that decision. Start the relationship with this in mind.

2. Tell the Truth
Mark Twain says it best, “Always tell the truth; then you don't have to remember anything”. I have seen the C.Y.A. approach adopted in lieu of telling the truth but it does not foster respect. To me telling the truth is actually C.Y.A. In management the truth can be difficult. However, telling the truth will earn you respect and it will put you in a position of trust. Telling the truth does not mean you share everything you know about any topic asked of you. When you are not sure if certain information is appropriate to share with someone, state either that you can not discuss it or that you do not have enough information about it. Telling the truth will rarely come back to haunt you. Being yourself and sharing your honest opinions tactfully is what successful management is made of. The only situations I have seen telling the truth come back to haunt me is if my opinion was prematurely given. Then if circumstances change and my opinion becomes controversial, I may be in a tough spot. Here is where experience lends its hand – if the jury is still out, refrain from putting yourself in this position by deferring to comment until you have more facts.

3. Act like You’ve Been there Before
In stressful times people want their manager to be in control and get them through the storm. You may be asked to handle something you don’t have a clue about or have never dealt with before. Don’t convey to your team that this situation is brand new to you and you’re not sure what to do. Rather, listen to the request/situation and let your team know you will handle it. If you need to, consult with a colleague, co-worker or your manager. This doesn’t need to be done in front of your team. Maintaining a positive outlook and an image of confidence during stressful times is valuable beyond words. Once you have your decision, go back to the team and calmly explain what the next step/s will be.

4. Let Me Get Back to You
Let me get back to you is a simple concept that can make your job easier as well as make you look stronger in your role. As a manager you do not need to know all the answers to every question that you are asked. It is not reasonable for an effective manager to be able to respond with the best answer anytime they are asked a question, especially as their scope of responsibility increases. "Let me get back to you" is beneficial because you look as though you want to consider all your choices when you do not actually know the answer. This creates some time to research your options, find the best answer or ask an other's opinion. When you share your final decision you will look as though you are in control versus making a quick judgment.

5. Show Me Don’t Tell Me
One of the best ways to earn respect is through leading by example. This will demonstrate first hand that you are capable of providing the same service/function as your team. This, too, will lend to your credibility when you are “speaking their language” regarding improvements, changes, etc… People naturally relate to similar people. If you can demonstrate you are capable of doing what they do, they will mentally bridge some of the gap between management and team member. An added benefit to this concept is less chance of error – seeing is clearer than telling.

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