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Respect is Lacking in Business. Let’s Change That.

Smiling manager having conversation with employee. Photo courtesy of katemangostar for Freepik.

“You treat people with respect, they tend to return the favor to the company.”

— Larry Page

When I was interviewing people for my book, I heard so many stories of people being treated badly by their bosses. They were bullied, harassed, neglected, ignored, passed over for promotion, left without support, and so on. I remember one person, in particular, who moved me to tears with her story. My thought, at hearing it, was “Why don’t managers respect their people?”

Respect is something we seem to lack in business.

The pandemic, labour shortages, shifts in stock market, supply chain issues, etc. have led to overworked employees and overwrought employers who continue to crack the whip over them.

In response to the above, well-meaning employers have implemented shorter work weeks or remote work policies, but this isn’t fixing the underlying problem. It’s what’s happening while at work that is making people miserable.

So—what makes a job bad? The boss.

Let’s take burnout as an example. According to Gallup, the biggest reason for burning out is “unfair treatment at work”. This was followed by unmanageable workload, unclear communication from managers, lack of manager support, and unreasonable time pressure. All of these 5 causes point back to the same thing—the boss.

A bad boss will ignore you, disrespect you and never support you. Environments like that can make anyone miserable.

Employers should ask themselves:

· Are they grateful for the work employees do?

· Have they passed down this attitude of gratitude to their managers?

· Do managers approach things in a positive manner?

· Is flexibility in balancing work-life pressures allowed?

In other words, are employees treated with respect?

The best benefit a company can provide to its employees is a good boss who treats their reports with dignity and respect, who is firm and fair.

Leadership should be holding their managers accountable for how they treat and retain their employees. But (and this is an important but), they must also provide their managers with the training and tools to be great bosses.

Great managers possess a rare combination of 5 talents:

· they motivate their reports

· assert themselves to overcome obstacles

· create a culture of accountability

· build trusting relationships and

· make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of the team and the company.

(Source: Gallup’s State of the American Manager)

The thing is, only about 10% of people out there have this unicorn talent combination. This means 9 out of 10 managers aren’t all that great at leading people.

This matters. It matters because managers have the greatest impact, versus any other factor, on productivity, retention, absenteeism, quality of work, and, as a result, customer satisfaction and revenue.

There is a clear link between managers and checked-out employees. The term “quiet quitting” was a huge topic recently. It’s not a new thing—disengagement has been a factor in global business for a long time. However, the pandemic has left workplaces forever changed and that’s been a wake-up call for employers.

To change this, companies need to get their managers on track. Employees are not connecting to their work, and it’s because they haven’t connected to their bosses. Managers need to get on track with the work, and with the people who do the work. They need to develop relationships with their reports, understanding who they are as people, and not just as workers.

This takes training and support. I’ve worked with many managers who tell me they don’t have the time for these conversations. Heck, managers are just as overworked (maybe more so) as their team members are. So, they need time allotted in their own schedules to have regular, frequent, and consistent one-on-one conversations with their reports. And, it means training them to do so in remote and hybrid environments, as well as the traditional office. Managers have also told me they don't know how to start these conversations or what to say during them. Training will help with that too.

Building connections, based on respect, can pay off. While people leave their jobs because of bad managers, they also stay in their jobs longer because of good managers.

Companies need to make money, it’s true. But putting the focus on profit over people will ultimately leave companies in tough financial straits. However, when they respect human feelings and support their managers to support their people, companies enjoy higher levels of engagement, and their people choose to do stay and do better work. In other words, they return the favour of respect to their companies.


C-Change Learning offers training for managers who wish to connect to their employees and inspire great work.

Check out our training programs at

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