Treat others the way you want to be treated. I disagree. Yes, it is a popular phrase, and yes, it has origins from The Bible. Is it wrong? No. Is it the answer? No. Perhaps we can consider a variation on the golden rule; treat others they way THEY want to be treated.
Modernize everything (not just technology)
Warning! The Industrial Revolution is over and organizations that continue to operate with that mindset will suffer, and probably die. Henry Ford is a well-known successful American Industrial Revolution leader credited with this quote, “Why is it every time I ask for a pair of hands, they come with a brain attached?” The leadership and management styles made popular by the construction and manufacturing industries of more than 100 years ago must transform and adjust to the varying needs of people today. How often do organizations that want to innovate purchase expensive and exciting new technology but use old school autocratic methods to implement the changes? Seventy percent of the time these implementations fail or are forced on staff in a ham-fisted manner, which creates unhappy, unproductive and disengaged employees. Not to mention a failed change project, wasted resources and a rapid return to the status quo.
Stop talking about the culture
Harvard Business Review writer, John Traphagan states, “Corporations and other organizations do not have cultures; they have philosophies and ideologies that form a process in which there is a constant discourse about the nature and expression of values, beliefs, practices, ideas, and goals.” As a consultant and speaker, I have been guilty of the typical 1980’s discussion of company culture, but am now beginning to change that tired discourse to something more relatable and real. Organizations are made up of people, and people have personalities, varied expertise and experiences, and different needs. An organization that has been around for a decent amount of time will also have employees of different ages. Do they all wish to be treated the same?
Well done to businesses and organizations who have a mission statement and corresponding values. This is an important strategy when promoting a shared vision. Do management and leadership behaviors match the mission and values? If providing an excellent customer experience is one of the values, then every customer-facing employee must have a great deal of decision-making authority. However, when a customer complains, the representative is often instructed to quote policy because he or she has no power to make adjustments in order to meet the customer’s needs. If, in writing, the organization values employee creativity, but stifles it with inflexible rules and structures, those lovely vision statements become meaningless. Other examples of incongruent messages involve autonomy versus dependence, purpose versus insignificance, and mastery versus inefficiency.
Treat others the way they want to be treated
Of course it takes more time and effort to figure out how each individual really wants to be treated, and it’s much easier and more comfortable to continue to operate in the familiarity of the Industrial Age. Leaders who begin to wake up from the unconscious comfort created by years of robot-style management behavior and do the labor-intensive work of establishing trust and building relationships with their people, are taking a step toward reviving an unhealthy and dying organization. Is treating others they way they want to be treated easy? No. Is it the answer? Yes.