Don’t Follow the Golden Rule!

don't follow the golden rule

Here’s a lesson I learned early on – don’t follow the golden rule! As a young manager, I wanted to reward my employees because they reached a lofty sales goal. I decided a staff party would be a fun way to engage and recognize everyone.

You should know that I enjoy organizing and planning parties, so I assumed everyone did. One employee, we’ll call him Dustin, had really excelled in his performance. His enthusiasm rubbed off on his subordinates, and his department exceeded the goal by the most. I wanted to reward him especially, so I asked him to organize the party and plan the food.

I learned a lesson. Don’t follow the golden rule!

Guess what? He hated it. We ended up with chips and dip for dinner. The staff was not impressed, and Dustin wanted to hide. Instead of him feeling rewarded, he was embarrassed. Party planning and cooking were not his ideas of fun, so I had actually set him up for failure. I should have played to his strengths – which is the ultimate guide to improvement. My reward for him had backfired, and I learned a lesson. Don’t follow the Golden Rule!

That gave me a great learning opportunity. Instead of doing to others what you want to be done to you, try doing to others what they want to be done to them! Here are some ideas:

  • Before you assume, ask what kind of rewards individual employees want, ask them!
  • Discuss appropriate rewards when you set those lofty goals
  • Find out what people like to do for hobbies as clues to their personalities
  • Realize everyone doesn’t enjoy the things you do
  • Don’t think that everyone dislikes a task that you find unpleasant…someone might find it a challenge

Remember that we are all different, and what can fill you with excitement and anticipation can fill someone else with dread. Rewards don’t follow the golden rule. Successful managers know that before they assign party duties. You haven’t peaked yet!