Friday, 15 May 2015 13:25

Leading your employees

Leading Your Emlpyees by Christine Porath (HBR)

blog 1 leading employee

For the last 20 years, I’ve studied the costs of incivility, as well as the benefits of civility. Across the board, I’ve found that civility pays. It enhances your influence and performance — and is positively associated with being perceived as a leader.

Being respectful doesn’t just benefit you, though; it benefits everyone around you. In a study of nearly 20,000 employees around the world (conducted with HBR), I found that when it comes to garnering commitment and engagement from employees, there’s one thing that leaders need to demonstrate: respect. No other leadership behavior had a bigger effect on employees across the outcomes we measured. Being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, communicating an inspiring vision, providing useful feedback — or even opportunities for learning, growth, and development. However, even when leaders know that showing respect is critical, many struggle to demonstrate it. If you’re one of those leaders, consider the following steps:

Ask for focused feedback on your best behaviors. This technique, originated by researcher Laura Roberts and colleagues, will help you see your most respectful self. Collect feedback via email from about 10 people (coworkers, friends, family). Ask each for positive examples of your best behavior. When and how have they seen you treat people well? After compiling the feedback, try to organize the data by summarizing and categorizing it into themes. For example, create a table with columns for commonality, examples (of the behavior), and your thoughts. You might also use Wordle.net to identify themes (you’ll also get a colorful picture that can serve as a reminder of you at your best, most civil self). Then, look for patterns. When, where, how, with whom are you at your best? Use your insights to reinforce what you’re doing well. Be mindful of additional opportunities to be your best civil self. Leverage your interpersonal strengths.

Discover your shortcomings. Gather candid feedback from your colleagues and friends not only on what you’re doing that conveys respect, but also on how you can improve. Specifically, what are your shortcomings? Identify a couple of trusted colleagues who have the best intentions for you and your organization. These are folks who you believe will provide direct and honest feedback. Ask for their views about how you treat other people. What do you do well? What could you do better? Listen carefully.

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