Unless you are the sole proprietor of your business and work in isolation, tucked away somewhere in a closed room, you have to work with, for, and alongside others. In every job there is a certain amount of give and take with which we must all contend. We must be able to get along if we are going to go along. There are 7 rules of engagement that will make your job…and that of your associates…easier.
- The golden rule doesn’t mean what you might think. I’ve always thought that if I treated others the way I would like to be treated those “others” would be pleased. But it doesn’t quite work that way. If I treat others the way they want to be treated, if I step intelligently and insightfully into their shoes and understand how they want to be treated, it works much better. Some people are very direct. Others aren’t. Some are quite open and talkative. Others are not. If I am gregarious and open I must not assume that everyone else is too and treat them the way I want to be treated. It will, and does, create resentment and irritation. Instead, figure out how they are and what they like then treat them accordingly.
- Choose simple over complex. I wrote about this in the last post so I won’t belabor the point here. Complications are, well, complicated. They make failure and frustration more likely.
- Choose the direct path to an objective over the indirect path. Expedite everything when at all possible.
- Be open rather than closed. I know this seems to run counter to #1, but I am addressing the “others” among us who need to open up some. A closed person can be misunderstood as being aloof or resistant to joining in. Those with whom we work need a place to connect.
- Be forthcoming rather than withholding. Don’t force someone to discover and ask just the right question. Supply any and all information that someone else might need to do their job without waiting to be asked and or waiting to be asked just the right question. I once called to ask what time a business closed. They told me the time. I got there a half hour before closing time to discover the door locked for the night. I called the next day, explained what happened and that I had called to ask. “Yes,” they said, “we do close at that time except for last night when we closed early.” When I complained that I made a trip, they defended their response saying that I did not ask when they closed that day, just asked when they closed. Don’t make others ask every little nuanced implication to find out what they need to know. Tell them.
- Report before being asked. Be actively accountable. Let superiors and associates know what’s what. Don’t force them to run you down and pry information out of you. Withholding information is a device used to control others. It becomes devious and Machiavellian…and it does not make for beneficial, benevolent working relationships.
- Volunteer the information others need to do their job. In this sense you become the mature adult in the room. We all work together and need ideas and information to flow freely. Participate in that yourself. Play nice.
All of the above describes a good citizen, one who behaves maturely, avoids pettiness and silly games. We often look for esoteric and scholarly secrets to define and describe smoothly running companies when they are most often simple and obvious.