Recognise This! – Senior leaders need to improve respect for employees, trustworthiness, and caring to better manage the workforce.

The Corporate Executive Board recently shared with us the Top 5 Critical HR Priorities for 2011 from their Corporate Leadership Council HR global agenda poll. Each day this week, I’ll address one priority.

Priority 1 for HR in 2011: Improving Senior Leader Capabilities at Managing the Workforce

Senior leaders constantly juggle innumerable priorities, each often requiring a different capability. Which should HR focus on to help senior leaders improve? I suggest senior leaders can’t hope to manage effectively unless they have the respect and trust of their teams. Their employees must also know the senior leader cares about them as people, not just “human capital.”

Paul Marciano, author of Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work, recently offered seven “critical” ways managers show respect for employees. His way was employee recognition: “Thanking employees and acknowledging their contributions on a daily basis.”

I don’t know if Paul listed these in order of importance, but there is no denying that acknowledgment of ourselves, our work, and the value of our contributions goes a long way to telling us we are respected in the workplace. Paul’s last item was trust: “Demonstrating faith and belief in their employees’ skills, abilities, and decisions,” which leads in the next capability senior leaders need to manage the workforce.

BlessingWhite’s CEO points out that without trust in leadership, employees question where they fit in the company. Towers Watson’s 2010 Global Workforce Study found “the most desired leadership characteristic is to be trustworthy, but only 47% of respondents agree that their leaders are, in fact, trustworthy.”

Why is this? Les Allan suggests on his Business Performance blog: “It can be more difficult to ascribe honorable motives to a ‘faceless’ leader.” To become more present to employees and “add a face,” senior leaders must show they care.

In his book The Thank You Economy, “King of Social Media” Gary Vaynerchuck, said:

    “I care more about my employees than I do my customers, and I care more about my customers than I do breathing.”

Do you care more about your employees than you do breathing? Do your employees trust you? Do you have respect for them? If not, I can guarantee they do not respect you, trust you, or care about you and your success.

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