Stop rankism in the workplace

When employees “pull rank” on other employees, the effects can be devastating. As one person abuses his or her power, makes hateful or manipulative comments, acts disrespectfully and takes advantage of co-workers, morale and productivity plummet, while turnover skyrockets.

Ensure rankism isn’t a problem on your team by following this advice:

Be a role model. Even if a manager above you tends to pull rank, don’t follow suit and belittle, disrespect or take advantage of your own employees and co-workers.

Let others speak their minds. If you become angry or impatient when people question you or you refuse to hear others’ input, you’re abusing your authority.

Hear everyone’s ideas—and acknowledge them appropriately. Everyone on your team knows something you don’t, and everyone has ideas about how to improve the team. Listen openly, and implement the good ideas. Most important, however, is that you don’t take credit for employees’ ideas, no matter where they fall in the ranks.

Tough Talks D

— Adapted from “Why ‘Rankism’ Harms the Workplace and How to Address It,” Joyce E.A. Russell,