Force gets things done?

Force gets things done. Sometimes this seems to be the predominant view in business.

Tell someone to do what you want; shout at them; swear at them; slam the door; strike fear into them – if you want anything done.

Do people who subscribe to this view really believe that their employees will do the best job possible when on the receiving end of such behaviour?

Surely, most people’s first response is to look for another job?

Apart from making other people’s lives a misery, owners and managers who act like this are really quite sad themselves.

On the face of it, aggression can frighten people into doing something, but they won’t do it willingly or with much enthusiasm.

Any business that cares about producing high quality products or providing excellent service cannot expect its employees to achieve either, if they do everything reluctantly. Such businesses need employees who care; who take pride in their work; who are loyal to their employer, who want to satisfy customers; who actually enjoy their work; and who do something because they want to do it.

Now, there are many businesses that do not care about these things, but only about achieving high volumes of transactions to generate the cash flow on which they survive. Such companies are unlikely ever to care about treating their employees with courtesy. They expect high staff turnover and poor quality, because they trade purely on their low prices. But how many businesses with this attitude can survive in the long term?

Any business aiming to survive and thrive in the long term must realise that employee attitudes determine their success or failure. Many businesses state that their people are their greatest asset, but people are not things. Companies with genuine vision recognise that their people are the business.

However cynical, vindictive and bullying the culture of a business, it will never match the success of one where courtesy enables people to do everything with enthusiasm, care, skill and efficiency.

But how do you turn an aggressive culture into a courteous one?

With patience, determination and commitment.

Very few people will believe you at first. We live in a culture where it is not everyday etiquette to hold open a door for someone; to stop and let them go first; to drive with consideration; to respect another’s personal space when queuing; to take note of what people say; to be punctual; to return phone calls; to acknowledge communications; to keep appointments; to say thank you.

People will not believe in courtesy until they experience it. Even then, they may not trust it, because they are used to being treated badly.

Developing a courteous culture takes time. We have to counter all the negative, aggressive experiences that individuals consider part of everyday culture.

It is not achieved easily, because unlike a process, it is both more complex and reliable.

But when you do achieve it, courtesy changes lives and business – for the better.

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