Why managers and workers need to respect each other

Respect is our starting point

Respect is one of the most important qualities we can have in business. We need to respect our clients. We need to have their respect by delivering quality service; the very best we can do and strive to be better than the rest in our field. We all know this. I have written about it once or twice.


Respect is important in the workplace too. I am not talking about forelock touching by employees towards their bosses. I am talking about mutual respect between employees and their bosses. That means communication between them.

All my yesterdays

Going back a while in my working life, I was a manager in a small firm which was taken over by a larger firm. I had two bosses. Neither had any respect for me. In their eyes I was a worker whom they didn’t want. They made assumptions about me. They assumed that because I didn’t have a large firm background I was not a capable manager. Not only that but they assumed that I did not know as much as their “own” staff about the technical issues of a job I had been doing for a long time.

These bosses didn’t give me a good run out with any difficult work so they were not likely to find out how good I was. I began to believe their stories, and when one client I was responsible for had a really difficult issue I had that client taken away. It was humiliating at the time. As I said, I even thought they might have been right, and it was not until I left and got another job which was really challenging that I realised just how good I was. And that was really good, though I say it myself.

I received no respect from my bosses. I was not the only employee who had no respect.

All I heard from my bosses was complaints that I was not making them enough money, but actually that was because they allowed me no decent clients and no decent work. They didn’t listen to me. I tried to speak to them but all I got was sarcasm and abuse from one and total indifference from the other. The only respect I received was from my own team, the people whom I supervised as a manager. And we were a team even though they suffered because I had no respect from above.

Managing is satisfying

I always enjoyed my time as a manager, and it was for the most part very rewarding. Management is about communication, and communication involves listening. To listen to someone we have to respect their opinion, and not to receive a dismissive answer such as “I hear what you are saying”, which, translated, means “I am not listening, I don’t respect your opinion, and you are bound to be wrong”.

Of course no one is perfect; even me, but I have always tried to listen. When I forgot once I was pulled up by a business friend, even if he didn’t realise. He reminded me how to help other business owners listen too.

I don’t think there is any way to manage a business except by:

  • Valuing our workers
  • Listening to what they have to say about their work
  • Having an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Your workers may think of a better way of doing things which can improve your business and make it more efficient. They turn out to be much better than you could have hoped for if you gave them their head. They may make a great contribution to improving profitability if you listen to them.

They will deserve greater reward if they do help your profits go up. It also starts with listening. And respect.

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