When a team respects their manager, the work is better, the environment is more productive and there are fewer distractions, like dealing with HR issues and petty personal conflicts. So why do so many managers cling to the old-fashioned notion that employees should fear them rather than work to earn the respect of their teams?
Just take a close look at respect and fear and you’ll quickly realize there’s a vast, almost polar difference between them.
Respect has several components: appreciation, trust, generosity, forgiveness and loyalty.
Fear also has components, like dislike, distrust, suspicion and disloyalty.
And you need go no further than your own head to realize the truth in this. Think about it: when you fear someone, you don’t like them. How can you like someone who brings out such an unpleasant reaction in you?
There’s also a randomness to fear–you never know what will happen next, which is unsettling. You can’t trust someone who is unpredictable, so when there’s fear, there’s no trust.
If you don’t trust your manager, you’d be foolish to assume they’re acting in your best interest. You are suspicious of their motives and actions. Add all this up, and there’s no way an employee will be loyal to a manager they don’t like or trust and who may act contrary to their best interests.
So there you go: fear equals dislike, distrust, suspicion and disloyalty.
On the other hand, think about respect. When you respect someone, it’s because your experience with them has shown that they’re good at their job. You appreciate what they bring to the team. Someone earns your respect by treating you well and by being open and honest.
Over time, you trust that they will treat you well and honestly. You respect someone who is generous with their support, time and feedback, and you’re likely to be generous in return, doing your best work and spreading their good reputation.
And when things seem off, you give them the benefit of the doubt and forgive minor inconsistencies. Add all this up and you get an employee who feels appreciated and valued and wants all these good things to continue. In other words, you get a loyal employee.
It’s no surprise that when people respect you, they’re more likely to allow themselves to be led by you. They are more able to trust you and to work hard to earn your respect as well, which builds your reputation and sets you up for success as a manager.
And it’s no surprise managers who are feared develop bad reputations, have trouble keeping talented employees and are more likely to fail.
To learn more about how to be a successful manager, read Don’t Be a Dick Manager: The Down & Dirty Guide to Management. It’s the management training you never got, available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com. The audiobook is available from Amazon, Audible and iTunes.
Do you think you might be a dick manager? Take the quiz!