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6 Ways to Abide by the Golden Rule in the Workplace

August 2, 2012

Treat others as you would like them to treat you.”

Maybe it was from a parent or grandparent or during your early years in school, but most likely those 10 words have been uttered to you (in some combination) during your lifetime. It’s advice that is so universal that versions of it can be found in many of the world’s cultures and religions throughout history. It’s the basic belief that if everyone were to think about others the way they think about themselves, we would have a more productive, less stressful, and all around nicer world.

For many adults, this advice seems well and good to share with their children on the playground, but they don’t see how it fits into the dog-eat-dog world of the workplace. With research showing that a team format is more successful and the increasing numbers of collaborative millennials joining the working ranks, we think it is time to revisit the Golden Rule in the workplace and have come up with six ways to get started using it:

  1. Be mindful of the deadlines you set. Before you set a deadline for an employee, ask yourself: ‘when will I actually be able to work on this?’ Respect the time of others and don’t ask for something today if you realistically will not be able to work on it until next week.
  2. Feeling heated? Take a minute to reflect. People are emotional creatures—even the most stoic of us can be overcome with emotion. A few times a day, try to stop and reflect on what is going on with you emotionally—Are you tired? Having a bad day? Checking your emotions at the door just doesn’t work, these things will affect you. Understanding what is happening in your mind and how it affects your mood will help you to be a better boss and coworker.
  3. Get to know your employees. Similarly to knowing yourself, getting to know your employees will help you to see when something is going on with them. Take time to understand a little more about who they are as people, not just as workers. Know if they have children to pick up at 5 or elderly parents that they care for. We’re not suggesting that you become best friends, but knowing some of the pressures in their life will help you to better manage and lead them.
  4. Say ‘Thank You’ and acknowledge hard work. You appreciate it when someone writes a thank you note or acknowledges all of your hard work in a meeting—do the same for others. This will help to build mutual trust and respect in the team.
  5. Understand that things don’t always work and mistakes happen. Sometimes a deadline is missed or a sale is lost—can you really say it has never happened to you? Help and encourage employees to learn from each bump in the road and work with them to develop a plan to move forward.
  6. Be respectful of other’s time. Time is finite and we are all grasping for more of it. Before you invite an employee to a meeting, ask yourself a few questions: ‘do I really need them there?’, ‘is there a more effective way for them to get the same information’, and ‘what do I want them to get out of this meeting and how do I ensure they get it?’ You hate to feel that your time is being wasted too. And who knows, if you start, maybe your boss will also ask these same questions before inviting you to a meeting?

These are just a few of the thoughts we discussed in our office. What do you think? Does the Golden Rule have a place in the business world? How do you see it being incorporated among colleagues?

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