Leadership: Treat People Right

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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.

Bottom Line

Treating people right is doing simple things all day, every day.  It’s about doing them even when you don’t feel like it.

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What People Are Saying

David Greer   |   08 Mar 2019   |   Reply

Thanks Wally.

You make it so clear.

The discipline and the work to keep applying what you have shared is what makes great bosses and great leaders.

As you say—it is not easy.



Wally Bock   |   09 Mar 2019   |   Reply

Thanks, David

Laurie   |   14 Mar 2019   |   Reply

Inspiring… so true!
Bonne journée!

FNU Anonymous   |   17 Apr 2019   |   Reply

This is so true.

I want to be treated right.

Hmm!! but, wait a minute !!! If this is REALLY true, it means I should do it to others toooooo???? In all those ways you have just described?? Really ??
My corporate experience has been telling me that people come to work because they wanted “challenge at work”, “automate things”, “improve the world”, “learn”, “make money”, “earn a living” etc. Are all these not true? If they are also true, do they come before people have to be treated right or after. If it has to be done at the same time, then I am going to punt on anything that does not show me results.

….. No offense to the author or his thoughts. I like everything that has been written in this post. But let’s not forget the irony / paradox of our ‘global’ / ‘virtual’ work environments where people are just a commodity. We have built all those walls just to include what they produce. Those walls keep us from even knowing them, let alone think about what they want. Thanks for the reminder that this as a “human want” and also stating it on behalf of those voiceless many.