THE Golden Rule is not “He who has the gold makes the rules.” It’s not even the lesser-known cousin, “Do to others before they do it to you!” I am referring to the principle that Jesus laid out, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). The workplace intuitively knows the Golden Rule through maxims such as “Greet the small people you meet on your way up, because these are the very same people you’ll meet on your way down” or “Don’t burn your bridges.”
Consider this sad but common scenario. Bob (not his real name) started his career in a multinational company as a management trainee. He turned off his colleagues with his raw, selfish ambition. He didn’t say so, but his actions screamed, “You better be nice to me because I will be your boss someday.” He projected himself as a high performer, whereas in reality he was grabbing credit from other people’s ideas and toil. He also berated and belittled his subordinates during meetings. He got one promotion after another by stepping on (and sometimes stabbing) the backs of his co-workers.
Then the axe fell. The economy was suffering and so were the company profits. Among those considered for retrenchment was Bob. Bob desperately rallied his co-workers to help him keep his job. Ever the people-user, he asked his fellow managers, “At least put a good word for me.” Did anyone come to his rescue? Not on your life.
I am not even thinking, “You scratch your back and I’ll scratch yours.” Personally, I find something calculating and devious in it. What if the other person cannot reciprocate the favor I will give him? Does that mean I withhold my goodness to him? If you read the Golden Rule carefully, it doesn’t say, “Do to others so that they would do the same thing to you.” Rather, the Golden Rule is unconditional, with no thought of reward or even regardless of the recipient’s response. “Do to others” -- period, no if’s, no but’s -- “what you would have them do to you.”
Lenny is Bob’s opposite. When she was a marketing head for industrial chemicals, she introduced a supplier to one of her end-users. The result was a triple win: the supplier got a lucrative contract from the end-user, the end-user enjoyed quality products made from the supplier’s factory, which in turn faithfully used Lenny’s industrial material. By the way, Lenny could have asked the supplier for a finder’s fee or commission for the deal. But she has the integrity not to.
Lenny herself was not spared of the economic downturn that hurt Bob’s career. Her employer reorganized its Asian operations and she was let go. The supplier heard about it and introduced her to one of his clients, who promptly hired her to lead a multimillion peso project. What goes around comes around.
Remember how you want to be treated and treat your peers, subordinates and even your boss accordingly. For example, do you want to be treated fairly? Then treat others fairly. Some time ago, a friend lamented that his office was starving for affirmation. Criticism and put-downs were the order of the day. He was about to quit when he realized, “Why not set the example of encouraging and coaching others?”
That didn’t mean he tolerated mistakes or mediocrity. Actually, he had to weed out poor performers as well. But he began commending his staff for jobs well done, usually in other people’s hearing. When he had to correct someone, he did it privately and constructively. In due time, his division ranked among the highest in terms of performance and morale. What’s more, he drew satisfaction in affirming others and stayed on with the company.
Sow kindness and we will reap kindness. That works on the job as well as in relationships. And who knows? The very workplace that you despise or depresses you may one day be a situation you look forward to every morning.
The perfect Christmas gift for fresh graduates and the newly hired! My latest book, Soaring High: Your Flight Plan for Your Best Career Ever, has just been released. It is packed with practical wisdom on how to choose your career, get hired ASAP, move ahead quickly, overcome boredom, survive a horrible boss, deal with difficult co-workers, balance work and love life, keep your integrity … and more! Available in major bookstores nationwide!