In our last article, we talked about not pretending that you own your clients. You do this by treating them as the freethinking individuals that they are and not taking them for granted. This ensures that they do business with you voluntarily out of their perceived self-interest and keeps your relationship in a win-win mode.
When you are a business owner or manager, it’s easy to focus on the end product or the work being produced instead of the person doing the work. It’s tempting to treat people as your pawns since they are working for you and doing what you are asking of them. But is this the right way to go? Does playing God with your employees really help anyone in the long run?
The Golden Rule
Just as with your clients, you don't own your employees and no one will benefit from you taking them for granted. Each employee is an individual with free will who could give you their best, day in and day out if given the respect and appreciation they deserve.
Respect and appreciation are not hard to provide and simple consideration and courtesy can go a long way. When I was a teenager, I had a job at a local pharmacy stocking shelves in the general supplies section. The store manager called every one of us kids who worked there Mister and Miss, speaking to us politely by saying, “Please bring these boxes to the warehouse, Mr. Kobrin,” instead of “Take these boxes now.” That had a profound impact on me. Even though we were all just starting out in business and, for many of us, this was our first real job, he treated us like adults. He could have just as easily bossed us around, following the example of many other authority figures. But the fact that he gave us a measure of respect made a difference. I know that I felt like a somebody in both my own eyes and his and that many of my coworkers felt the same way.
The Benefits Of Respect
If you want hard workers that respect you, playing God won’t give you the results you want. In the personal example above, I can attest to the fact that we all worked extra hard for this man. He was smart and knew how to put our eagerness and enthusiasm to good use, for both our benefit and his. When he saw that one of us was ready, he would give us a challenge, whether it was stocking an entire aisle for the first time or putting special merchandise in a prominent display. Each one of these challenges was an opportunity to show how good we were at our job and how far we had come in our training. While it could be nerve-racking at times because there was more on the line and you had to meet a higher standard of performance, our boss was encouraging and you could be confident he wouldn't have asked you to take on this task if he didn't think you were ready.
A Better Way
This pattern of appreciation and respect is the way to deal with employees, especially when they are young. This is how you groom them and grow them in your company and create an atmosphere of loyalty. You can’t demand respect of your employees. If you give respect, you will get respect. You can’t treat them like pieces on your personal chessboard. In all my years of working, I have known many employers who didn’t care about their employees and saw each man and woman as a commodity to be used and tossed away. Or even worse, to be continually used and abused. This type of boss thinks he's God and can do anything he wants with you, just because you work for him.
The #MeToo movement shows us how malevolent and damaging this attitude can get. These powerful Hollywood elite think they can have their way with young actors and actresses, simply because they work for them. I really can't think of a better way to kill morale and squash careers, as many survivors have attested, and it's all because these moguls pretend they are God.
This is the lesson to walk away with: just because you have power doesn’t mean you wield it over your employees. Don’t let it get to your head.
I’m sure many of you also have stories where you have seen this principle play out. What were the effects on you? How has it changed how you treat your employees? Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a free 15-minute introductory phone call online to discuss this topic with me further!
Steven H. Kobrin, LUTCF, owns and operates a national life insurance brokerage. He is a life insurance specialist, and expert in helping clients that are higher-risk or need special handling. He is affiliated with a premier general agent and master general agency to distribute top-of-the-line financial produces and services. Through them, he forms strategic partnerships with insurance brokers, financial advisors, and financial institutions to expand client services, increase sales, and generate referral income.
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