Lesson #2: Always treat people the way you want to be treated.
This is an article series based on lessons learned from my great mentor Lionel Morely Joel. Read the first article to understand the background and then dip in and out of the lessons as you please. Below, why you must treat people with respect to earn their respect.
I arrived at Lionel’s office for my daily round of mentoring. Just a normal day at the office, so I thought. As I walked into his office I could tell he was not happy. Before I could even say “good morning”, he let me have it, tearing into me about a mistake I had made the day before. He made sure his voice was carried beyond the office, so everyone knew Eddie was getting an ****kicking.
I returned to my desk and waited for the call to go back to his office so I could explain the mistake (grovel). The call never came.
I went home distraught. I couldn’t sleep; I kept thinking about what had happened and how hurt I was. How I hadn’t been given a chance to explain.
The next day, the call came. As I entered Lionel’s office, I found a very different (normal) Lionel.
“How did you feel about how I treated you yesterday?” he asked. He said to be honest, and so I told him how upset it had made me.
“Last week, one of the girls in the office made a small mistake,” he said. (He knew everything.) “So you went over and in front of everyone pulled her apart. What makes you think that she felt any different than you did last night?”
His message was clear, and I have never forgotten it. Treat others as you want to be treated: with compassion, consideration and fairness. I would never have got that message so clearly if Lionel had not done what he did to me.
We all deserve courtesy and respect in the workplace, and I had just become too big for my boots and let my position (and arrogance) get the better of me. I would like to think it has never happened since, but only others could tell you that.
It’s a basic lesson that seems almost too obvious, but how easy it is to forget, especially in the heat of a stressful moment. But remember this, staff will walk alongside you for a while, if told to. Treat them badly and they’ll walk away. Manage them well, with compassion and respect, and they will walk alongside you for a long time. Not because they are told to, but because they want to. And those are the staff you want at your side. Less obvious is that this can’t be turned on and off. I’ve often been asked over the years how it can be that staff will go out of their way to meet tasks or challenges I’ve set, where other managers face an uphill battle over every request no matter how nicely they ask. The currency gained from treating staff with respect can only be built up over time, and it can be destroyed within a minute.
Next: The cost of vanity.
If you think your interpersonal skills could be restricting you from getting the most out of your staff I’d love to help. Why not contact me for a no-strings chat to see if I’m a good fit to help you and your business.