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Updated 28 Sep 2020

7 Ways to earn employee (and peer) respect in the workplace

It’s often said that respect is earned, not demanded, and that’s true. But how does one go about earning respect in the workplace? Here are seven strategies to do just that. 

Donna Rachelson, 18 October 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

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Your personal style of leadership plays an important role when it comes to gaining respect, trust and loyalty amongst employees and peers.

If you’re too authoritative, staff may find it difficult to communicate with you. On the flip side of the coin, if you’re too relaxed, they won’t take you seriously.

Striking a balance between leadership styles is essential if you’d like to elevate employees’ and colleagues’ respect of your role in the company –regardless of whether you’re the business owner or a manager. 

Related: 4 Ways to manage your reputation in the workplace

Combine a well-balanced leadership style with these tips and you will be well on your way to becoming a more respected member of the company:

1. Prove that you add value early on

People respect those who contribute value. Identify a project you can take on that will yield positive benefits for your organisation, or a key problem you can solve and you will be well on your way to earning the respect of your peers. 

2. Leverage the respected brands of others

Find a key person (or two) that has a respected personal brand and associate yourself with them. This is not only a smart networking principle, but will boost your respect because your personal brand will be associated with theirs.

Think about it – if you found out that your new colleague was a close friend of someone you admire and respect, say Richard Branson, it would probably influence the way you think about that person. Similarly, steer clear of associating with people with a bad reputation to avoid compromising your own personal brand. 

3. Take a firm stand on what you believe

When it comes to issues that are important to you, take a firm stance on what you believe and stick to it (making sure you can back up your position with facts, research and logic). People will respect you for this, even if your beliefs are different to theirs.

4. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo

While I’m not suggesting disputing things just for the sake of it, if there’s a good reason to challenge a system / policy / process / norm, find a fresh alternative and go for it. By supplying new ideas on how to improve ‘the way things have always been done’ you will build respect and showcase the value you add.

Related: How to turn an underperformer into an ideal employee

5. Live abundantly

People who share their networks, contacts, knowledge and resources freely tend to be well respected. People admire and appreciate abundance because it speaks to confidence and generosity. Be willing to share and help where you can and you will be respected for it.

6. Protect your integrity

Stick by your key personal values – don’t compromise. Be known for living out your values, even when it’s tough to do so, and you will earn respect for this.

7. Be smart in how you frame your successes

Learn to communicate your successes by focusing on the value you have delivered, rather than empty bragging or posturing. Those who have earned respect have done so by proving in tangible, quantifiable, ways that they add value. Do the same.

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About the author

Donna Rachelson

Donna Rachelson is a branding and marketing specialist and has held a number of marketing director positions in blue-chip organisations including Nando’s, as well as marketing and project management positions at AECI and Standard Bank. Today, she is the founder of Branding & Marketing YOU, which offers keynote presentations, workshops, strategic marketing consulting, coaching and support services. She is also the author of the best-selling book Branding & Marketing YOU, the first South African based personal branding and marketing book.

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