With all the talk about ping pong tables and gourmet chefs and nap rooms, you’d think people really want a lot to come to work. But they don’t.
Many of the people who came to my supervisory skills classes thought their job was to motivate team members. Whenever I asked those individuals whether they needed to be motivated, they said, “No, I just want to be treated right.”
That’s what people want. They want to be treated right. Treating people right is a hygiene factor. If you don’t do it, productivity and morale plummet. If you treat people right, though, they’ll give it their best shot.
So, what does it mean to treat people right? Here’s my list.
People want to know what you expect from them, and they want those expectations to be reasonable. It’s not much. It’s just treating people right.
People want to be able to tell how they’re doing. If possible, they want to be able to tell without having to ask you. That’s not much. It’s just treating people right.
People want to do work that’s meaningful. Don’t mistake this for some grand, save-the-world purpose. Meaningful work is important to somebody. It might be the customer, or another team, or it might contribute to company performance. Your job is to tell them why their work is important. That’s not much. It’s just treating people right.
People want to work in a safe place with people they like. Your job is to tend the garden of culture so that’s how it is for your team. When someone toxic becomes part of the crew, it’s your job to set things right. That’s not much. It’s just treating people right.
People want fair treatment. The consequences of their actions should match up with their impact. They want to have their say. They want forgiveness for common mistakes, and they want the same rules to apply to everyone. That’s not much. It’s just treating people right.
People want to grow. They want to make a little progress every day. Your job is to help them. That’s not much. It’s just treating people right.
People want autonomy – as much control as possible over their work life. Most of the time, their boss, that’s you, wants to hang onto more control than necessary. When in doubt, let them show you want they can do. In fact, let them show you what they can do even if you’re not in doubt. Your job isn’t to distribute power, it’s to unleash it. That’s not much. It’s just treating people right.
That sounds simple, and it is. But it’s not easy. Most of us want to control too much, direct too much, make judgements without reasonable process. It’s even harder to do this stuff every day, day after day, week after week, month after month.
Treating people right is doing simple things all day, every day. It’s about doing them even when you don’t feel like it.