15 octubre, 2015

Are You Treating Your People Badly?

Original Spanish version published in El Comercio newspaper (Peru) on October 15, 2016

Today more than ever, companies cannot make the mistake of treating their people badly. Modern companies know well that their talent and their customers pay attention to how company leaders behave towards their staff, and that what they see is a determining factor when they are looking for a place to work, when they are thinking of looking elsewhere for work, or when they are looking for a company with which to do business.

Yet it’s sad to see how non-modern organizations, so to speak, lose opportunities, prestige, brand value, customers, and talent because their leaders are blind to the consequences of their people not feeling well-treated and respected. Although they may often mistreat their personnel out of carelessness or a simple lack of awareness, they still do irreparable damage to the relationship of trust and respect that they should strive for with their employees.

This ill treatment often happens in situations that produce anxiety and uncertainty, such as organizational changes, mergers and acquisitions, leadership changes, and so on. And despite the fact that this is when people feel especially vulnerable and need to be treated with consideration and respect and with a regard for their self-esteem and dignity more than ever, many “leaders”, perhaps because they don’t see any drama or tears, are careless in their attitudes and decisions. Their insensitivity ends up making their people feel ignored, offended, or simply mistreated.

I have also found that companies mistreat their people in several other ways.  For instance, they may fail to fulfill their promises related to their people’s futures or careers, or leave their employees hanging for weeks without clarifying their situation. They don’t treat them impartially: support is given to people based on their level of experience, position, origin, sex, or age, forgetting that everyone deserves equal respect and consideration.

In fact, I have heard of many cases where companies mistreat their people by favoring some over others with no justifiable reason. I have also heard of cases where they put people in excessively stressful situations, such as having them try to achieve unrealistic goals or objectives. I have seen cases where leaders have given their employees news that affects them without due consideration or in front of others. Others are always criticizing staff instead of giving them opportunities for improvement; pointing out only their errors without mentioning their accomplishments.  I have also heard of leaders violating the confidentiality of their staff’s personal affairs; speaking cruelly or disrespectfully to them; and of course lying to them or giving them unreasonable deadlines, along with many other examples that we’ve all seen. And the list goes on.

In contrast, I have worked closely with practically all of the companies that top the various recognition lists for good leadership practices, reputation, corporate responsibility, and HR here in Peru. I have seen the significant efforts these companies make to constantly improve their leadership policies, cultures, and practices, at every level, basing these on respect towards their personnel and on the many forms that respect can take. Unsurprisingly, these companies have an enormous advantage over organizations that have yet to fully understand the value of treating their people well.

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