Titles Don’t Equal Respect: Building Genuine Relationships with Your Employees

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Gaining the respect of your team should be one of the highest priorities for any manager. Respect leads to a more positive work environment, increased employee engagement, productivity and retention, all things that any good manager wants.

However, if you’re looking for respect from your employees, you’re going to need to focus on your team rather than yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that titles have some sort of inherent meaning or representation of your value.

While a grandiose title can feel quite nice, it is ultimately a hollow thing as there is very little standardization of levels and roles, and the cross-functional and cross-divisional management structures in most corporations result in people with similar titles but distinctly different jobs. At various times and places, I have held both manager and director positions. One sounds more impressive, however, I had greater responsibilities as a manager than a director.

Titles change a lot too. While working as a Subcontracts Administrator, I had three different titles (for the same role) within 4 years. The job didn’t change, my satisfaction and/or frustrations did not change, only the words below my name on my email signature.

Don’t assume that with a title, and the authority associated with it, comes automatic respect. Your title lets you tell people what to do. It doesn’t make them want to work with you or agree with you. Respect must be earned. It’s not something that you are entitled to, or part of your compensation package along with x hours of PTO and stock options. 

Take the time to reflect on your leadership style and consider how you can build genuine relationships with your employees. Remember that titles don’t automatically command respect, you earn it through your actions and behaviors. Prioritize listening to your team, prioritize their needs, and show authenticity in your interactions. By focusing on building a respectful and collaborative team environment, you can create a more productive and fulfilling workplace for everyone involved.


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