"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (in as many
words) hasn't been the pan-religious ethic of civilizations both
ancient and modern for nothing. The importance of reciprocity has
survived because respect is what helps people living and working
side by side to flourish.
Employees want respect. It helps them grow. It makes happy. It makes them proud of what they're doing and it makes them work harder.
This isn't just speculation - researchers from North Carolina State University found that staff work harder for managers who treat them respectfully and fairly. "If you think you are being treated well, you are going to work well with others on your team," said Dr Jon Bohlmann.
And teamwork is key here. A bad manager fails to realise the significance of equality among the team.
Guilty of irrational favouritism or hung up on some archaic notion of an aggressive hierarchy, the bad manager feels to belittle employees is to remind them of their place, to keep them in line.
To criticise them is more important than to compliment their work, to nitpick like a pedantic pensioner would be more useful than to actually give an employee's work the breathing space and constructive criticism it needs to succeed.
And, because a bad manager fails to understand how crucial the feeling of equality and respect is to an employee feeling valued and wanting to contribute, the bad manager overlooks how useful it is to include more junior members of staff in important meetings.
Instead, these fresh new minds and ideas (who could well revolutionise any project) are neglected in the corner, their opinions unheard.
Eventually, they give up trying to come up with great ideas for the business, because it seems that their opinions are worthless anyway. Their manager never takes their thoughts on board. The business becomes stagnant and old fashioned, and staff begrudge their disrespectful boss and lose motivation.
The disrespectful manager has a tendency to talk to staff like they're children. Commanding rather than asking, condemning rather than querying, the bad manager doesn't realise that you get most out of people when you make them feel important.
Instead, feeling unfairly patronised and demeaned, staff go home feeling smaller each day, exasperated that their hard-earned qualifications and career history are being wasted on a lazy boss who asks them to make the coffee before reading their report.
Of course, there are ways round this. Jeweller Beaverbrooks insist senior managers must first have worked on the shop floor to help gain respect of their charges. Which is no doubt one of the reasons Beaverbrooks ended up as No. 1 in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For list.
Small steps help. Include junior employees in meetings, assess their work thoroughly, on time and with useful feedback, discuss ideas with them as equals. Be open to using employees' suggestions - only the most awful of managers believes their ideas are so infallibly perfect there's no space for anyone else's.
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