Respect is elusive for many managers, though especially those who lack leadership skills, rule by fear, or aim to please team members versus putting the company’s best interests first. However, there are also plenty of managers who truly deserve respect but struggle to get it. In our work at Female Breadwinners, we find women managers are faced with difficult challenges in this regard- including employees who find them unreasonable or allow bias to creep into their judgements.
A wonderful article in Forbes recently covered the ways managers can get more respect at their workplace. We would like to focus on those points which are more essential for women managers.
Be Kind and Direct -
While most women managers do manage to convey kindness in their communication, it’s important to balance that with being direct. Over relying on kindness can increase the risk of being perceived as a pushover. Most employees just want their manager to tell them the truth about their performance or their future prospects. Managers who can be direct but kind with their employees will earn both respect and gratitude.
Develop a sense of humour -
Levity is a great tension breaker and the sign of a savvy leader. People can be made to feel at ease with sharp wit that is professional and relates to the job. Women managers can use humour to better connect with their employees.
Praise publicly, punish privately -
Praise and recognition are two tenets of good management and gaining the respect of your staff. While it is important to show genuine appreciation publicly, one must be careful to never humiliate someone by giving negative feedback in public. Such criticism can set off a chain reaction of mistrust and fear on the team that will be difficult to overcome. On the other hand, constructive private feedback demonstrates that you have their best interests at heart.
Be mindful of your image -
If what you do and what you say are not reflected in your lifestyle, you are bound to lose big on respect from your employees and clients. This is a particular challenge for women as younger women find it hard to be taken seriously and older women often tend to get written off too. Women managers need to put in that extra effort to build up a reputation which establishes themselves as good leaders and be extra alert about it being tarnished.
Believe in yourself -
Sometimes, confidence is half the battle in succeeding. Confidence, poise and professionalism are a magnet for any team. It is important to remain equipoised in any situation- irrespective of the challenges being faced. However, don’t confuse tenacity with being myopic or stubborn; you can follow your instincts while remaining flexible according to events that unfold.