How many times have you heard the expression “people leave their boss, not their job”?
We’ve written about it on our blog many times, and almost every big publication out there (Forbes, HBR, Fortune, WSJ, etc.) has written about it.
All of this originates from a Gallup study that states:
“A Gallup study of 7,272 U.S. adults revealed that one in two had left their job to get away from their manager to improve their overall life at some point in their career.”
An important question to ask yourself is, what is it about a bad boss that makes people leave?
What are these bad bosses specifically doing to make all of these people quit?
It’s likely more than one thing, but if you had to boil it down to one key thing that bosses are doing, what would it be?
I believe the real reason people quit comes down to one simple thing: a lack of respect.
It’s really that simple.
This is why the engagement issue has bothered me for so many years.
I don’t get how companies are still treating their employees poorly, and I certainly don’t understand the numbers from our employee engagement research.
The Value Of Respecting Your Employees
Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath did a study of 20,000 employees and looked at what leadership factors led to engagement.
They found that respect had by far the biggest outcome on engagement.
They found that:
“Those that get respect from their leaders reported 56% better health and well-being, 1.72 times more trust and safety, 89% greater enjoyment and satisfaction with their jobs, 92% greater focus and prioritization, and 1.26 times more meaning and significance. Those that feel respected by their leaders were also 1.1 times more likely to stay with their organizations than those that didn’t.”
Unfortunately, their research found that 54% of employees feel like they don’t get the respect they deserve.
This is a bit complicated, because respect is subjective, meaning that it’s different for everyone and might be tough for leaders to adjust based on people’s needs, but it’s still no excuse.
People who said leaders treated them with respect were 55% more engaged.
There’s real value in something as simple as showing respect.
We know that engagement leads to better business outcomes, and this research shows that respect is at the root of engagement.
The Biggest Sign Of Disrespect
There are a lot of different ways that leaders can disrespect their employees, but if you had to boil it down to one thing, it would be time.
This is the biggest problem facing most organizations today.
Leaders show a complete disregard, and complete disrespect, for their employees’ time.
Think about these situations:
- You need an employee to stay late to work on a project with an arbitrary deadline.
- You call an 8am mandatory “strategy” meeting to talk about how you can increase sales.
- You organize a happy hour event that everyone’s going to, so if one employee doesn’t go, they look disengaged.
- You send an email to an employee on a Sunday afternoon with “a quick question”.
- You ask an employee to complete a report by the end of the day (that should normally take a week).
This is the kind of stuff that’s just rude. So disrespectful, and such a clear sign of selfishness.
This is what gets employees angry, and what sends them looking for other opportunities.
All that time spent changing plans when they need to stay late or come in early affects other people (spouse, kids, etc.) and the extra stress that comes from those Sunday emails is unnecessary.
I’m not even talking about the problem of feeling like you have to “check in” or “stay online” during a vacation (that’s a topic for a whole other post), but some of these things are just so thoughtless.
Other Reasons Why Employees Don’t Respect You
I truly believe that the biggest thing you do for employees to not respect you has to do with time, but here are a few other reasons why your employees don’t respect you.
You Don’t Trust Them
This is easier said than done, and I get that trust needs to be earned, but my best advice would be to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I’ve said this before, but if you trust employees enough to hire them and pay them, you should trust them to do their work.
When you do things like micromanage, or ask for constant updates, it stems from a lack of trust, which leads to employees disrespecting you.
Communication is so important in the workplace, and even more important when a leader is communicating with their employees.
Ultimately, communication is pretty hard to get right because there are so many nuances, but you need to be incredibly mindful when communicating with your employees.
Think before you speak, and use your words carefully.
This happens all the time in the workplace.
Promises of things getting better or easier, saying one thing and then doing another, or any type of false hope is ultimately a lie.
It’s hard to respect someone after they’ve lied to you.
Sometimes, miscommunications happen or intentions are genuinely good, but you need to be extra careful with that stuff.
How To Earn More Respect
Now that you know how valuable respect in the workplace is, and some of the ways you’re potentially disrespecting your employees, let’s look at a few ways you can earn more respect at work.
Trust Your Employees
Clearly showing employees that you trust them and that you have faith in them is pretty much guaranteed to earn you respect from your employees.
One of the keys to this is learning to let go. Don’t double check their work all the time.
Get into the mindset that they know what they’re doing.
Give Them Autonomy
Employees need autonomy to grow, and they’ll respect the fact that you believe in them enough to give them that autonomy.
They’ll likely surprise you and produce some amazing work.
Let them choose what they work on, and let them see their project all the way through.
Collect Frequent Feedback
An easy way to earn more respect from employees is to collect frequent feedback from employees.
When you’re open to collecting continuous feedback, you’re showing that you’re always willing to improve, which employees will respect.
If you actually implement some of their feedback, then it’s guaranteed to earn their respect.
Listen More Than You Speak
When employees feel like they’re listened to, they’ll respect you.
It’s a nice sign of respect on your part if you’re willing to listen to what they have to say.
Be More Transparent
People respect honesty.
I recommend practicing radical transparency, meaning you share everything that you’re legally allowed to share.
Remember, knowledge is power. Why not give your employees all the power they can get?
Respect People’s Time
Last, but certainly not least, the best piece of advice I can give you is to respect people’s time.
Understand that your employees have a life outside of work.
Understand that what you’re asking them might not be realistic.
Be more mindful of them.
If you show your team the respect they deserve, employees will be loyal, engaged, and happy to work with you.
Remember, job hunting is an incredibly annoying, time consuming process. No one wants to do it, but people need to be happy.
Keep them happy and they’ll be with you.
How Do You Keep Your Talent?
Any retention tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!