Solution Saturday: How to Earn Respect

Dear Dan,

I need help! I am the new manager to a team of experienced professionals. How do I earn their respect?


New Manager

Dear New,

Congratulations on being selected to manage a team of experienced professionals. It might help to remember that you were chosen for a reason.

5 reasons:

The people over you believe in you and want you to succeed. Make a list of five reasons you earned this opportunity.

  1. What do others see in you?
  2. How can you bring those traits, attitudes, and behaviors to your new role?

Problems harm most when you forget who you are.

Turbulence makes self-knowledge most valuable. Apart from self-knowledge, you’ll be blown around by every wind.

Give what you need:

Managers who need respect know what others need. But a needy manager isn’t respect-worthy.

Shift from your needs to their needs. Every time you feel a need to be respected, give respect to others.

What do respectful people do? Do that for your team.

I suppose the above sentence adds to your stress. But it helps to turn your need into a trigger.

Open, not insecure:

There is an openness that is needy and insecure. This type of openness is pushed around by others.

Practice openness but make your own decisions.

Don’t make a big deal about your screw ups. Apologize, learn, adapt, and move forward.

Don’t work so hard:

Ask more questions. Give fewer answers.

The pressure to have the right answer unnecessarily stresses managers.

You have a team of experienced people. They know more than you in their area of experience. Honor their knowledge and experience.

When you feel pressure to give an answer, ask an experienced team member a question.

  1. What options come to your mind? (Explore more than one option.)
  2. What does your experience suggest we should do?

Warning about experience:

Experienced team members are experts at things that WON’T work. Listen to their concerns and say, “I see what won’t work. What might work?”

Expect experienced team members to contribute to solutions. Don’t allow anyone to cast stones from the sidelines.

Remember to generate multiple options before making decisions. (See “Don’t work so hard,” above.)

Build a learning culture:

At the end of meetings send people out to learn something. Ask them to report their learnings at the next meeting.

  1. Teach everyone to respect learning.
  2. Expect everyone to be a learner.
  3. Be a learner yourself.

Listen for hidden agendas:

Avoid being manipulated.

While listening, ask yourself, “What does this person really want?”

Where will you end up if you follow suggestions?

When something doesn’t feel right, ask team members:

  1. What are you trying to achieve?
  2. How does this move us forward?
  3. What else might you suggest?

Final words:

If you want to earn respect…

  1. Relieve pressure. When you aren’t sure, say, “I’ll get back to you. I need to think about this.” (Be sure to follow-up.)
  2. Be calm, curious, and forward-facing. Keep moving toward organizational mission with kindness and resolve.
  3. Have tough conversations sooner rather than later.
  4. Say no without apology, but with kindness.

You have my best,


PS I respect your use of the term “earn.” It seems you aren’t feeling entitled.

What suggestion do you have for new managers who want to earn the respect of experienced team members?

Bonus material:

5 Simple Ways to Gain Respect (Inc)

How to Earn Respect as a Leader (HBR)

5 Tips to Become a Respected Leader (Quickbase)

Note: I suspend my 300 word limit for Solution Saturday.