business people

Give respect to earn respect

Lesson #2: Always treat people the way you want to be treated. Or why you must treat people with respect to earn their respect.

I arrived at Lionel’s office for my daily round of mentoring. Just a normal day at the office, so I thought. As I walked into his office I could tell he was not happy. Before I could even say “good morning”, he let me have it, tearing into me about a mistake I had made the day before. He made sure his voice was carried beyond the office, so everyone knew Eddie was getting an ****kicking.

I returned to my desk and waited for the call to go back to his office so I could explain the mistake (grovel). The call never came.

I went home distraught. I couldn’t sleep; I kept thinking about what had happened and how hurt I was. How I hadn’t been given a chance to explain.

The next day, the call came. As I entered Lionel’s office, I found a very different (normal) Lionel.

“How did you feel about how I treated you yesterday?” he asked. He said to be honest, and so I told him how upset it had made me.

“Last week, one of the girls in the office made a small mistake,” he said. (He knew everything.) “So you went over and in front of everyone pulled her apart. What makes you think that she felt any different than you did last night?”

His message was clear, and I have never forgotten it. Treat others as you want to be treated: with compassion, consideration and fairness. I would never have got that message so clearly if Lionel had not done what he did to me.

We all deserve courtesy and respect in the workplace, and I had just become too big for my boots and let my position (and arrogance) get the better of me. I would like to think it has never happened since, but only others could tell you that.

It’s a basic lesson that seems almost too obvious, but how easy it is to forget, especially in the heat of a stressful moment. But remember this, staff will walk alongside you for a while, if told to. Treat them badly and they’ll walk away. Manage them well, with compassion and respect, and they will walk alongside you for a long time. Not because they are told to, but because they want to. And those are the staff you want at your side. Less obvious is that this can’t be turned on and off. I’ve often been asked over the years how it can be that staff will go out of their way to meet tasks or challenges I’ve set, where other managers face an uphill battle over every request no matter how nicely they ask. The currency gained from treating staff with respect can only be built up over time, and it can be destroyed within a minute.

If you’d like help getting the full weight of support of your team behind you why not explore this on our mentoring retreat in Tuscany this October? Contact me for a chat to see if the retreat could be just what your business needs.

This is an article series based on lessons learned from my great mentor Lionel Morely Joel. Read the first article to understand the background and then dip in and out of the lessons as you please. 

How to mentor staff

Lesson #1: Getting the best from your staff comes from teaching them how to swim.

In the first lesson in this series I explore how you can mentor staff to enable them to contribute more to your business.

The day after Lionel had surprised me with his offer, I had my first mentor session with him (I was no less petrified at this stage.)

“Before we begin Eddie,” he said. “I think it would be a good idea if you could get rid of the gold rings, the gold necklace and the gold bracelet.” I thought I looked good, but clearly my attire was not working for me.

Lionel then said he was going to teach me how to swim, which I thought was a most unusual start to our first meeting.

However, I soon learnt with Lionel that he was never just going to tell me anything without a story attached.

“There are three ways I could mentor you,” he said.

“I can take you to the pool, throw you in walk around the other side and wait for you, but you may drown on the way across.

“I can throw you in, jump in with you and hold you up until we reach other side, but that would mean you would never learn to swim alone.

“Or I can throw you in, jump in with you, swim alongside you and when you start to go under, gently lift you up.”

As I had nearly drowned several time in my uninspiring career to date the first option didn’t look too good to me. The second sounded ok, but clearly that was not going to work for Lionel. So we settled on option number three, as of course he’d intended us to.

And that is exactly what he did in those 10 years. He left me alone but never let me drown (though I came close several times). He was always there for me, helping me when he realised that I could not make it alone.

We all make mistakes and as a mentor Lionel knew I would make mistakes – and needed to make mistakes in order to learn – but he was clever enough to minimise those mistakes, ensuring limited harm to the business. He knew I could only learn from my own mistakes. If you cannot accept mistakes will happen with staff then you will have a difficult time developing them.

Just like me, every successful businessperson can name the person/people who helped them achieve their success – who’s yours? If you’d like to talk to me about our mentoring retreat in Tuscany this October contact me for a no-strings chat to see if I’m a good fit to help you and your business.

This is an article series based on lessons learned from my great mentor Lionel Morely Joel. Read the first article to understand the background and then dip in and out of the lessons as you please.

Next: Always treat people the way you want to be treated.