The Golden Rule—based on Matthew 7:12—is to treat others the way you want to be treated. We’ve all grown up hearing this rule and being taught how it applies to how we treat others. But how do we, as leaders, apply it in the workplace?
Mike Ruge emphasizes that you need to think about building relationships in whatever sphere of influence you have. If you help people know they’re valued and that you care, it goes a long way. And ultimately, it helps with retention.
But how do you do that?
Approach everyone with a mindset that says “How can I treat others as more significant than myself?” Youhaveto be intentional.
Ask questions before making judgments
Mike approaches every interaction by asking the question “What do I hope to accomplish?” Most people think, “What can I get out of this?” We need to challenge ourselves to think of others.
People need to know that you see and hear them. What is happening in someone’s life that’s impacting their productivity at work?
People go through divorces. Family members gets sick. They struggle financially. What’s happening in their lives will impact them professionally. Sometimes all you have to do is stop and ask how they’re doing. Good leadersask questions. Take time to invest in them to make sure they’re okay. You won’t have all the answers but showing that you care matters.
We were dealing with a situation where there was some conflict between team members. My gut instinct reaction was to say “This person won’t be a fit with us in the future.” Mike approaches these situations from a different perspective.
He starts by askingwhy. Maybe this person didn’t know what their expectations were. Maybe they were dealing with something they felt was unfair. You don’t know the why until you sit down and have a conversation and ask.
Avoid being accusatory. Don’t come in with an agenda. Don’t make assumptions. If someone isn’t doing well, find out what’s going on at work. Find out what’s happening in their life. Narrow down where the problem is coming from before you focus on a solution.
We had a situation when someone didn’t understand a process and it impacted his output. So Mike asked him to walk through it with him. Mike saw where the issue was. The team member thought he’d been following the process but he was misinformed. How much responsibility falls on him versus who trained him?
Once we knew where the issue stemmed from, we could collaborate on a solution. The team member felt involved, heard, cared for, and understood. That built rapport.
Assume responsibility and give them the benefit of the doubt
Always look at how you might have contributed to a situation first and give your team the benefit of the doubt. Don’t assume that your instructions were clear to everyone. Have an open conversation to understand their side. Apologize for being unclear. Don’t assume they did something wrong.
When people have to have a conversation with leadership, they already walk in feeling intimidated. Don’t give them a reason to feel that way. Equal the playing field and let them know you care.
How to address underperformance
There will be times where someone is underperforming and it needs to be addressed—but there’s a right way to do it. If your team members are falling short, how can you help themseehow they’re performing?
Mike oversees volunteers at his church. They don’t always have the right giftings for where they are serving. So if someone isn’t doing their job well, Mike has to approach them. He starts by asking them about their role, and how they like it, and then follows up with their performance.
For example, if they’re struggling in their role as an usher, he’ll ask them to ponder the question, “What are the five best attributes an usher needs to have?” He lets them process and asks them to come back the next week to discuss it.
Then he asks them how they’d rate themselves against the attributes. By the time you get through the list, they may realize that they’re not gifted in their role.
You can take the same approach with an employee who’s underperforming. It’s better if you can help someone realize how they’re contributing to their underperformance and take ownership of the issues. Once you do that, it’s far easier to move forward and talk about how to improve (or what next steps may look like).
Keep yourself accountable
Who are you reporting to? Find someone to make sure you’re sticking to the golden rule. If you don’t have accountability, everything will fall apart.
Pour into your employees and approach things with “How would I want to be treated?” This simple shift in mindset can change the way you build relationships and improve retention—and output—in your business.
Listen to episode #385 of MakingChips to learn more about applying the golden rule in your business.
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