Workplace culture used to be much different regarding the employee-boss dynamic. The status quo dictated that people should be grateful for employment and willing to ignore abuse levels to keep their jobs. Legal advice was often given to do whatever the boss said. If bosses instructed workers to do something ethically vague or work unpaid overtime, that’s what they’d do. Today, the landscape is much different. Workers are more inclined to look for a workplace where they feel like they are validated and respected.

Positive company culture matters to today’s workers, and leadership sets the cultural tone for a business. If people think their leaders see them as cogs in a wheel, only making money for executives and shareholders, they won’t stay around for long. Today’s worker wants recognition and value as a person. They want to feel like they’re a part of a team, where everyone’s contributions are acknowledged and heard.

Leaders should be aware that they’re often very different from their subordinates in many ways. Usually, the people who are natural-born entrepreneurs are highly-focused and driven. They’re willing to make significant sacrifices to make it to the next level. Not every personality type is like this. For some, work is simply a means of survival. Every moment at work is time away from their small children, art projects, or other passions. Leaders need to be empathetic to their teams and realize they have priorities other than their mission and brand promise.

Anyone who wants to engage and lead people working under them needs to approach that task with a plan. There are several significant ways to show employees that company leaders care about them. Treating employees with respect is critical. There are simple ways of putting this into practice. Saying “please” and “thank you” can go a long way when dealing with subordinates. It’s the difference between being domineering and treating someone like an equal. Embracing different perspectives is also very important. Remember, everyone has something to offer. Employees living in diverse or colorful neighborhoods might have a fresh take on customers’ needs.

Remember that workers have career goals, too, even if it isn’t the CEO. Some leaders lose people by only focusing on themselves. Noticing a worker’s abilities and offering them the chance to develop can mean everything to them. The surest way to earn respect is to hold yourself accountable. If you make a mistake, apologize. 

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