The Golden Rule Is Hard-Wired in Us in the Workplace

Jun 04, 2018

The Next Big Thing Is the Same Old Thing

Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew by [McFarland , Robert]At the launch of my book, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew, I wondered how it would be received. While the book was based on new research, the findings weren’t new: they validated the Golden Rule in Scripture. So I was amazed when the book earned the #1 spot in Organizational Behavior in the US, France, and Japan; the #1 spot in Workplace or Workplace Culture in the US, Canada, and Australia; and the #1 spot in Professional Growth in the US and Australia. But it just goes to show that the next big thing is really just the same old thing.

Paul said that God’s law is written on the hearts of even those who don’t know God (Romans 2:14-15). Everyone knows that they are supposed to follow the Golden Rule—do to others what they wish others would do to them (Matthew 7:12)—even if they don’t know that principle comes from Scripture. People resonate with what is true—even if they don’t know why it is true.

Through my research for the book, I discovered the four major concerns of employees today. (Believe it or not, none of those concerns involve money!) The book identifies what those four major concerns are and then explains how to solve each of the four concerns—through a biblical perspective.

Here are the four main themes from my book and some of the supporting Bible verses for each of the main themes.


People resonate with what is true—even if they don’t know why it is true.


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Get rid of fear (1 John 4:8)

John Mackey says in his book, Conscious Capitalism: “Fear is the opposite of love. When we are completely grounded in love and care, fear is not present.” Fear and love cannot coexist, because love drives out fear.
When you replace fear with love in your workplace culture, your team will feel more accepted. They will start to let the walls down in their lives, and they will become more like the people God made them to be.
When you have fear in your culture, it’s as if your team is running a race with shackles on their legs. When you remove the fear, you take the chains off.

Build up people (Romans 12:9)

Give compliments to build a relationship with your people. Show them by your words that you value what they do. They may not get any encouraging words from anyone else in their lives, so you can have a powerful influence in their lives if you speak life into them.
I don’t give these guidelines for you to overthink giving compliments. Think of the Golden Rule, and express what you naturally feel. If you really mean the compliment, then you should be willing to say it—because if you truly believe it, then they will want to hear it.

Choose your words carefully (Proverbs 18:21)

Before you give feedback to your team members, think through what it would feel like if the roles were reversed. Remember the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). When you were the one being corrected, how did you want to be spoken to? What words would have made a positive impact on you? How could your bosses have used your performance reviews to motivate you better? Prepare to give your feedback with the answers to those questions in mind.
The words you use can build up or tear down. Choose to say words that will change lives for the better.



Everyone needs to be part of the team (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Everyone you hire is on the team and needs to view themselves as on the team. Those who are in support roles have to see that they win when the team wins and lose when the team loses.
Every role in the company is as important to the success of the company as every other role. When everyone realizes they need to do their part, then you will create the culture to sustain that kind of thinking.
Everyone on the team needs to realize that they matter to the team, and what they do matters to the team as well. If your team embraces that concept, it will help them understand that others are counting on them.

Everyone should give their all (Colossians 3:23)

By sharing your vision for where you want to lead your team, and showing them how they can do it, you can inspire them to achieve more than they thought possible. They will want to know that you will be the one leading the charge. They will want to see that you will be willing to put in that championship-style effort.
Everyone on your team needs to believe they are able to make a difference for the team. All work has value. It is your job as a leader to make sure that everyone on your team sees that their work is valuable and valued. By letting them know that you value their work, they will take pride in what they do and they will do it with all their ability.

Everyone should serve each other (Galatians 5:13)

It is important to emphasize that everyone on the team can make a difference for the overall success of the team, and everyone on the team is dependent on everyone else on the team. Everyone on the team should have a perspective that they will stand by their work because they understand that others depend on them to do good work.
Every department is just as important, so they are equals. There should be a mutual respect and appreciation for the role that each department has, just like the Golden Rule. Every department should evidence a willingness to serve each other to achieve the overall company goals.



Be humble (1 Peter 5:6)

Be willing to learn from others. By admitting that you don’t know everything and by involving your team in solving company problems, they will respect your leadership all the more.
The more removed you are from the actual work that gets done, the more your team knows that you don’t know what they know. It’s okay to admit to your team that you don’t know it. That may be a hard thing to admit, but they already know. Why not just say the obvious? By being open about something you don’t know, they will have a newfound appreciation for your leadership. By admitting that you don’t know everything, your team will respect you more.

Be impartial (Proverbs 24:23)

Everything you do as a leader should be focused on fostering an environment of trust. Again, remember the Golden Rule. If you play favorites, you will not develop an environment that is perceived as fair, and it will not encourage trust on your team.
While you may be able to rationalize why you favor some people more than others, it is imperative to think through the unintended consequences that can happen. In effect, you will create a tiered organization with some who are the favored class, and some who are not.

Be fair (Proverbs 20:10)

Everyone should be made aware of what the standards are and what the expectations are. To be fair, everyone should have the same opportunity to perform at their jobs, just like the Golden Rule.
When assessing the team, the same standards should apply for everyone to ensure that the process is fair. Providing a system that can provide checks and balances to your personal preferences will produce an environment of fairness.


Say what you mean (Matthew 5:37)

Your words have to mean what you think they mean. Use words that are clear to everyone in your communications, whether in writing or in conversation.
If you are using terminology or vocabulary that your team isn’t familiar with, define it for them. Don’t leave the interpretation of your words up to them.
When communication is poor, then the process of working together breaks down as well. Without that cooperation, a business venture is hampered at the least—and doomed to fail at the worst.

What is hidden will be revealed (Luke 12:2-3)

Be open to reassessing your information policy with your team. Think through the benefits and detriments of withholding the information. You may well discover that the concerns you had about divulging the information were unfounded.
Developing transparency will help you prevent your team from developing an active rumor mill. If you can only see the downside of sharing supposedly sensitive information about the company’s health, stability, and future, consider what assumptions are being made by your team when they don’t have access to that information.

Your team needs to be together (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Meetings serve a useful purpose in creating culture at an organization—if they are run properly, intentionally, and consistently. When people are not spending time with each other, they can assume the worst of each other. Misunderstandings and misinterpretations could be avoided if people would look at each other, implement the Golden Rule, and be able to talk face to face. Many problems could be solved before they happen if people actually talked to each other face to face in a regular forum.
Face-to-face meetings are important for leadership to share information with the entire team, but they are so much more than that. Meetings are for more than dispensing data; they are forums for demonstrating authenticity, creating clarity, and cultivating understanding.


You can change the culture of your business if you intentionally and consistently implement the Golden Rule.


Check out my book, Dear Boss: What Your Employees Wish You Knew. You can get your copy on Amazon. 

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