I’ve recently made one of the biggest mistakes of my life, by not treating one special person the way I should have had. Treating people right, from friends to colleagues or employees, should be so simple, yet we often fail at it. Why is that?
We forget to be thankful. We rarely stop to count our blessings and we rarely say them out loud. If you appreciate something, acknowledge it. Think it, say it, feel it.
We don’t reward. Recognition can take many shapes and public praise is valued by many, because even we feel good about ourselves, even the most confident people need to have that confirmed from time to time. Say thank you in an all hands meeting and name the person who went the extra mile, grant a day off as a bonus (yes, your company can afford it! Yes, it really can), send that one person to an outstanding event. It is not all about salary increase.
We take things for granted. We acknowledge a person’s role, we get used to it and can’t imagine things might one day change. Therefore, we don’t do anything to prevent attrition or should I say truly improve retention. We wait for things to build up and explode (or implode) and then try to glue them back together. It’s not impossible to fix things and make them better, but few master Kintsugi (the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold powder).
We don’t mind our behaviour. I will pick just one example: as a manager, never yell at people. Psychologically, yelling comes from fear or insecurity. Whenever someone yells at you, that person fears something: either a consequence, a loss, feels intimidated perhaps, but yelling always covers fear. As for the person being yelled at, well… people may forget what you said, but they never forget how you made them feel.
We don’t empower people. When it comes to our workplace, it’s fairly straightforward: it means granting autonomy, decision power, holding back from micromanagement. It’s the same in our private life: while being perfectly capable of making your own choices, empower the person next to you to take a decision that might affect you. It shows trust.
We hear, but rarely listen. This one is as old as time, so I will not insist upon it. Genuine interest in somebody’s words is hard to fake.
We break trust. Throughout our lives we are constantly invested with trust: confidentiality, secrets, disclosures. In society, holding your word, your promise, being trustworthy is a social norm. Once you get a reputation for breaking it, you get pushed out. In companies, disclosing confidential information is a justified reason for employment termination. Also, as a people manager you will deal with sensitive personal information and showing you’re able to manage it, is key.
So how do you fix things? Just read again the headlines above, in bold, and simply do the opposite.
If you wonder why we often see the opposite in companies, find out here why schizoid personalities often get promoted.