The Golden/Platinum Rule of Business

Given unlimited resources (and unlimited understanding from the powers that be), what would you want to change in your organization?

Knowing what’s broken, what’s not delivering desired results, what’s simply not registering high enough in employee surveys is the first step in fixing a problem. It’s also a key question in the first tactic of creating a strategic recognition program – “Establish Program Goals and Objectives.” As we discuss in our new book, Winning with a Culture of Recognition:
“Often the goals of a recognition program begin with the question, ‘What do you want to change?’”

If you fail to establish clear goals for a program before you begin designing it, then you’ll always lack direction for what you’re trying to accomplish and you’ll never be able to measure success. To figure out those goals, it’s often helpful to look at what you’d want to change, whether it be problems or deficiencies in an existing incentive, recognition or employee rewards initiative or in the overall culture of the company.

A post I wrote on “Employee Trust in Its Death Throes” sparked a good deal of conversation in the HR blogosphere. Charlie Green of the excellent “Trust Matters” blog took my post and dove into the issue much more deeply. I encourage readers to click through and read the comment stream to Charlie’s post. In my comment, I focus on something I’d like to see change in organizations:
“[Create] the new golden rule of business: Look out for each other’s best interests.”

Think about it. If we’re all looking out for each other’s best interests, then that means I’d have tens to dozens of people looking out for mine. And if we’re consistently doing that, it’s natural that we begin to care more about those we work with.

Skip Weisman, blogging on an entirely separate topic, introduced the Platinum rule:
“Do unto others as they would like to be done unto.”

This is much more difficult than the traditional golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” because the golden rule presumes everyone wants the same things you do. The platinum rule requires you to step outside that comfort zone and actually come to know and care about what the other person wants, likes and needs.

But you can’t achieve the platinum rule unless you first adopt the new golden rule of business. Regardless, both are critical to goal setting in strategic employee recognition programs – look out for the interests of others, notice them, appreciate their efforts, and recognize them in the way they want to be recognized.

What about you? Did we get these new rules correct? Did I miss a “silver rule?”

2 comment(s):

At November 17, 2010 1:01 PM, Zane Safrit said...

I’ve read this post now 2-3 times. Maybe, I’m a slow reader. I’d like to think it’s more to do with what’s offered and asked in this post.

A post like this is one reason to make me dislike blog comments. It would be too easy, and too often we have too little time, to leave a quick comment that either misses the points or offers an attaboy which almost misses the point.

Without a clear goal we’re like Alice In Wonderland. If it doesn’t matter where we’re going then it doesn’t matter if or when we get there.

On the other hand, do we know where our starting point? Do we know where are right now?

Erika Andersen in her book Being Strategic suggests, strongly, that this is an oft overlooked step: Being a fair witness, pulling the lens back, to see where are we right now, assess our strengths and weakness, resources, etc.

And then look to the goal. She describes those who fail this step as likely to suffer from the American Idol syndrome. Being a singing star is a wonderful goal. But can you really sing?

You discuss some of that with the encouragement to look at what you’d really like to change. The next step would be to ask do we have the desire, the will and the resources to change it? When? How? If not, where do we get them?

Your platinum rule inspires me. It seems to raise the bar of our commitments, our relationships, with each other. Anyone who implements that in their life becomes a ‘change agent’ quietly disrupting the old channels of ‘what’s in it for me-me-me’ and replacing it with ‘what’s in it for us? How can we help each other be better, stronger, smarter...?’ It would be an insidious campaign, one that’s difficult to root out.

You ask is there a silver rule? Maybe, it’s show me how our interests are aligned, our goals are connected, our successes are dependent on each other’s, our strengths are dependent on the strengths in different areas of others. All politics are local, it’s said. All success is local, too. It’s dependent on those around us, most closely aligned with us, who share our challenges and goals. The silver rule would give ‘objective’ data that verifies the principle of enlightened self-interest. For those who need that external support to confirm ‘they’re not a sucker’ and refutes the cynical ‘no good deed goes unpunished’ and step out and 1) Do unto others as they would want done unto them and 2). Do unto others as they know those others would want done unto them.

At November 17, 2010 1:31 PM, Derek Irvine said...

Zane, thank you for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment. You're right that sometimes it's too easy to leave an off-the-cuff comment that doesn't get to heart of what we really wanted to express.

You've hit on a few points I have in mind to address in future posts, such as how do we know where we're going if we don't know where we are right now?

I like very much where you're going in your closing comments -- very team centered and focused on the fact that no employee is an island. Individually, we accomplish what we do in teamwork with others. And the benefits of those accomplishments are certainly shared by the company as whole, the customers, the community.

Again, thank you for thoughtful insight. Keep reading to see these ideas reflected in future posts.