💌 Dear Foreword - how do you deal with a direct report who doesn't respect you? Sincerely, Drained Manager
Dear Drained Manager,
I’m an Executive Coach, so I think in questions. If a client came to me with this challenge I’d first acknowledge that feeling disrespected sucks, and then I’d ask questions to understand more:
- “What makes you say that?” By articulating the specific actions and behaviors that are leading you to feel disrespected, you can start to interrogate your assumptions. What you’re reading as disrespect might really be their generalized frustration, cultural differences, social anxiety, or any number of things. Start by pressure-testing your assumptions to build more empathy, and not assume that because you’re perceiving something as disrespect that was their mindset or intent.
- “What impact is it having?” There’s a difference between someone not feeling respect and someone being disrespectful. If it’s the latter, or your direct report is demonstrating behavior that’s otherwise impacting their performance, as a manager you owe it to them to give clear, direct feedback to help them change. Acting disrespectfully is not OK.
- How do you want to move forward? Once you’ve pressure-tested your assumptions and decided if you owe this person important feedback (see above…), then we can start brainstorming ways to build more mutual trust and respect.
- What or who do they respect? What can you learn from that?
- What motivates them, and how can you build trust by appealing to the things they care about?
- You can always pull for feedback by asking them: “What’s one small thing I could start or stop doing to [be an even better manager // strengthen our relationship // make your life at work better]?”
By leading with curiosity instead of defensiveness you set yourself up to actually make progress and build a better relationship. Good luck!!
Sincerely, Rachel Peck
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