Why you should stop trying to make your team like you

Sue Ingram
Christian Bakery Taken To Court By The Equality Commission
Find yourself handing out cake? Stop (Source: Getty)

You have just been appointed as a new manager, and you are determined to be the best of managers, one who is liked by everyone who works for them - just as you liked some of the managers you worked under.

It's a mistake. Not becoming the best manager, that is, but the idea you need to be liked by your staff for them to work productively for you and achieve top results.

If being liked is your top driver, this will immediately impact on your effectiveness as a manager. You'll begin to make decisions based on what your staff will think, rather than whether it is the right decision to take.

In the worst case scenarios, some individuals in your team will know this at a subconscious level, and begin to play on your goal of being liked to their own benefit.

In very subtle ways, the power will have switched from you to them. You will know this is occurring when staff are looking happy and content, taking little personal responsibility and producing poor results while you appear to be the only one worrying and working hard to get the results in.

Perversely, some managers will then try to "fix" the problem by being even nicer to their staff making matters worse.

Thinking being nice is the right strategy to take is the road to managerial failure. But don’t panic: not for one second am I advocating you should join the dark side of management and become hard-hearted, cold and cynical.

The right approach is to work to become respected.

As a manager, there will be times when you'll be required to make decisions even you don't like. Providing people with negative feedback, announcing redundancies, re-organisations, shelving pet projects. These are tough and sometimes emotional situations and being the manager who wants to be liked will not help you here.

But being respected will. You can be respected for:

  • Making the tough decision in difficult times
  • Being fair and consistent in all your dealing with staff and colleagues
  • Informing people what is happening wherever possible
  • Being truthful and a person of your word
  • Driving for business results, setting exciting and stretching targets
  • Admitting to mistakes and errors
  • Walking your talk
  • Being fully committed to each member of your team being their best by providing the feedback and accountability they need

In a perverse way, when you become respected for being a tough, clear, committed and fair manager who develops staff and gets the results in, you will stand a very strong chance of being liked.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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