I hope you enjoyed last week’s edition on treating your friends the way you want to be treated or the way they want to be treated. This week, we are delving into workplace relationships and how to treat your leaders and followers the way you/they want to be treated.
As a leader of a team, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), manager or any other leadership position, can you boldly say that you treat your followers well? As a follower, can you truthfully say that you treat your leaders well?
The questions above will produce numerous responses if we were to do an actual organisational survey, but the focus here is to contextualise how to build better workplace relationships.
Building better relationships with your followers
Do you belong to the school of thought that believes in shouting and creating fear to get the best result? The thing is, to adequately decide the technique to use; you need to know who the members of your staff are.
Human resource management is so important that it is a field of study in Universities, there are professional courses for it and almost every organisation has a team of human resource personnel.
It is important that the human resource team has a file on every member of staff containing everything about them including their personality traits, updated strengths and weaknesses, IQ and other intelligence statistics, amongst others.
As a leader of a team or group of persons, you can either use the information with the human resource management team or you can get to know your team members by yourself. It has been said that what you do not have adequate knowledge of cannot yield unto you the best results, and this principle is very evident in the relationship between a leader and his followers.
The question now is, where does the golden rule (treat others how you want to be treated) or the platinum rule (treat others how they want to be treated) come in? No one climbed to being a leader without being a follower at some point. So to apply the golden rule, remember how being a follower was like for you and all the complaints you had about your leaders. You need to consciously ensure that you do not repeat that same pattern towards your followers.
If you did not like being publicly embarrassed in the name of correction, do not do it to your followers. If you did not like the fact that your leader never sought or used your ideas, ensure to treat your followers how you really wanted to be treated when you were a follower.
Do not see your followers as just people beneath you that you rule over but build healthy work relationships that have an appropriate feedback mechanism where each follower can talk about their concerns and where you as the leader can also share your thoughts.
The truth is, it is through the open communication line that you would be able to know when to apply the platinum rule. Some members of your team might have more speed or faster finishing time on a task; the deal is not to keep bombarding them with many tasks but to help them to grow to a point of speed. This can only happen when there is a healthy communication line and you are interested in growing your follower based on what you know about him/her.
Empathy might seem like a weakness to some people, but remember when you were a follower and because of how far your house was you always got late to work and always felt sad when your leader at the time never showed empathy or looked for a way to help you out.
Living far away is just one example; it could be that your follower has a health challenge, family issue, or any other challenge. Be empathetic towards your followers and seek out ways to make their lives more conducive. This is because a happy staff can yield double the results of a sad staff.
I understand that in an organisation there is so much work to be done and maybe no time to pay rapt attention to getting to know the members of your staff. You must have however forgotten that the best resources in your organisation are the people and being able to bring out the best from these people will go a long way in determining your organisational success.
Your followers are all intelligent, smart, and hardworking and so on, but they are all different and do things differently. You cannot continue to treat them randomly. See them as a team you belong to and begin to treat them how you wanted to be treated while you were a follower. In addition, treat them how they would want to be treated based on the adequate knowledge you have of them.
Building better relationships with your leaders
In our world today, we are so quick to judge our leaders as bad, not caring and other hurtful phrases, but we have forgotten that to be a leader there must be a pack of followers.
The truth is that the leadership model is not complete without the follower. In every relationship, agreements are of high importance as there would be no reaching a common goal if there isn’t an agreement.
Never forget that your leader is a human being that has several weights on his/her shoulder and for every organisational goal not met, he/she bears the utmost consequence.
It is not in all scenarios that your leader would be the approachable time, so hone your observation skill and pay rapt attention to the behaviour and character of your leader to know how exactly to relate with them.
Do your best as a follower to ask the right questions, carry out your tasks as asked, make your concerns known where necessary, and above all do your part in the whole process of achieving the common goal of the organisation.
In a situation where you are not getting the best results due to different circumstances, do not stay silent as this would only gradually eat up the best of your mental abilities.
The truth is, determining whether to apply the golden or the platinum rule to your leaders is very tricky. The golden rule is however the first go to option and should be employed by registering in your mind that your leader is a human being and should be treated fairly. That you are a follower today does not mean you cannot become a leader tomorrow. Ask yourself and answer honestly how you would want your followers to treat you. Begin to imbibe those answers first towards your leaders.
Switch to the platinum rule as you move on and never stop observing your leader and learning about their likes and dislikes. Leader or follower, you are all a team and if one party fails to be interested in getting the best out of one another, the organisation will fall one way or another no matter how long it has been standing.
In conclusion, work place relationships are not like the regular relationships we have with friends and family. Bear in mind, however, that as a leader, you do not want your followers to be easily poachable by your competitors. You can only get loyal followers based on how you treat them. Also, as a follower, you are mostly able to be ranked highly by your leaders when you help them make leadership easier. So do the right things and treat your leaders well.