The Golden Rule for Business Owners
Do you remember learning the Golden Rule as a child? You probably heard it a thousand times. ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you.’ Powerful words.
Do you use it? It’s one of the simplest lessons we learn. And arguably the most valuable. Yet, many of us lose sight of it.
Most business owners tend to focus on their customers. They see the value in making sure their customers are treated as they would want to be treated. They put themselves in their customers’ shoes.
Are they doing the same thing with their employees? More and more these days, I see business owners who don’t practice the same sort of policy when it comes to their staff. Their business suffers for it. They suffer for it. And, of course, their employees suffer for it.
Implementing a Golden Rule policy with your staff should be easy. Think about how you’d want to be treated if you were an employee. Establish systems and programs that mirror those desires.
You’d want to be treated with dignity and respect. You’d want to be trusted and told the truth. You’d want to know what was expected of you and what the consequences were for meeting, exceeding, or falling short of those expectations. You’d want to be told things of importance in a timely fashion. And likewise, you’d like to be responded to in a timely fashion. You’d want to know the company owner’s vision and what your role was in achieving that vision. You’d want to know that you and all of your co-workers were treated fairly and that the ownership had a genuine interest in your success. You’d need the tools and resources to achieve that success. You’d want to be empowered to do your job without someone standing over your shoulder. You’d like to have the opportunity to be accountable. And, certainly not least of all, you’d like to feel appreciated.
Trust and truthfulness: Do you trust your employees to carry out your vision? Are you honest with them? People know when they aren’t trusted and when information is being kept from them. It makes them uncomfortable and insecure. When people feel this way, they are unintentionally less productive.
If you want your staff to carry out your vision, they need to hear it from you – often. Don’t assume that they just know what it is. Your vision is YOUR responsibility. While they should be hearing it from their direct supervisors too, they need to hear it from you – after all, it’s your vision.
If you have people on your staff who you don’t trust, get rid of them. Look at it this way, if you don’t trust them, they know it. The odds of them carrying out your vision are diminished. At the same time, there is probably a good reason that you don’t trust them. And the rest of your staff is most likely fully aware of it. It is detrimental to you, your staff and your company’s success to keep anyone on the payroll who you have issues with. Imagine how it makes the rest of your staff feel.
Establish clear and documented expectations. It sounds simple and it is. Make sure your staff understands what you expect from them. They also need to know what the consequences are when they meet, exceed, or fall short of those expectations. Those consequences should be clear and measurable. When all the players know the rules, you have a level playing field. This is when it becomes easy to remove someone who isn’t performing. There’s no gray area, no uncertainty for you, or them.
One of the keys to successful management is effective communication. What I’m talking about here is the flow of information between management and staff. You have an obligation to make sure your staff has the information they need to do their jobs. At the same time, when they leave you a message or email you, you have an obligation to respond in a timely fashion. First of all, you don’t want to be the reason they couldn’t get their job done. Secondly, when you don’t respond, it gives the impression that you don’t care. You will be perceived as being dismissive.
Empower your people to do their jobs. Give them the tools and resources they need to be successful. Provide adequate training when appropriate. This, in addition to providing clear and measurable consequences, allows them to be accountable for their actions.
Compensate them fairly. Remember the old adage ‘An honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay?’ It is still relevant. If you want your staff to want to work for you, make sure they are fairly compensated. Make sure they understand that it’s the position that merits a certain pay grade and not the person. Let them know any ways they may be able to increase their pay. And keep it consistent. Compensation should never be a moving target. It should be clear, stable, and simple. This goes for sales positions too. If you can’t clearly explain to your salespeople how you arrive at their commission, it’s too complicated. That also leads to mistrust on their part. They’re never sure if they are getting what they earned.
Let them know they are appreciated. This is huge. Studies have been done which show that while people want fair compensation, they also need to know they are appreciated when they do a good job. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. A little bit goes a long way – like a pat on the back. Likewise, don’t ever assume that people know you are happy with their performance simply because they get a paycheck. They need to hear it. While it’s a good idea to establish a set review schedule, you’ll add value when you veer from that format to thank someone at an unscheduled time.
At this point, there is one huge statement that must be made. If you are the kind of person who avoids confrontation and/or likes to micromanage – remove yourself from the day to day operation of your company. This goes right back to the trust issue. You have to trust people or you are doomed. Put managers in place to carry out your desired plans and establish a reasonable communication system between you and them. If this proves difficult for you, enlist the help of a business coach. Someone you do trust who can help you develop a better program. Your staff should be hearing from you when you are discussing your vision and when you are thanking them for a job well done. Otherwise, you should be out of the picture.
As always, when considering this issue, ask yourself the question – Would you want to be micromanaged or work for someone who avoided confrontation? Probably not. Neither do the people who work for you.
So you see, when dealing with your employees, the rule of thumb to use is The Golden Rule. It will help you make the best decisions for you and your business. Your employees will thank you with outstanding performance and loyalty.
Copyright© 2006 Diane Helbig
About the Author:
Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach and the president of Seize This Day Coaching. Helbig works with salespeople, small business owners, and entrepreneurs. Diane is also the Co-Founder of Seize True Success, Coaching for Franchisees. Diane is a Contributing Editor on COSE Mindspring, as well as a member of the Sales Experts Panel at www.topsalesexperts.com. To learn more or schedule a complimentary discovery session, visit www.seizethisdaycoaching.com or www.seizetruesuccess.com.