The Perils of Trying to Be Liked by Your Employees

February 19, 2018

The Perils of Trying to Be Liked by Your Employees

I know, sounds ridiculous. If people hate you, you can’t get their cooperation, you can’t motivate them, they won’t help with reaching the unit’s goals and frankly, it makes for an unpleasant and stressful work place. So there are lots of good reasons why you want to care whether your employees like you.

But in a management position, you sometimes need to make decisions which aren’t popular with your unit. And in that weird way that is life, if you don’t make them, you’ll end up being disliked anyhow.

Let’s consider what would happen down the line if your priority was being liked by your employees rather than being respected.

Going for being liked

So, let’s assume that you’ve been supervising the unit for a couple of years and have bent over backwards to be popular with the staff. This has included going for a beer after work, accommodating the personal preferences of employees, doing some of the work yourself to relieve the load, always being pleasant, and avoiding criticizing whenever possible.

Let’s say you could be a fly on the wall for a conversation between two of your employees whom you thought liked you. You are she/Mia in the conversation.

Emma: So, did you get what you wanted?  
Tony: Yeah, but I better move on it before she changes his mind.  
Emma: Well, Alex’s gonna talk to her.  
Tony: Piss, why does she always agree with the last person she sees? Because you want to please whomever you’re talking to.
Emma: Especially Alex. He just has to yell at her long enough. You make decisions based on who’s most unpleasant about getting his way.
Tony: Alex! Don’t talk to me about him. She should start a new trend and make him do his job. You avoid dealing with performance problems.
Emma: Yeah, she’s a pushover. Did you hear she let Ops grab the new equipment? Other supervisors don’t respect you and don’t take your group’s needs into consideration.
Tony: What! That was supposed to come to us.  
Emma: What can you do? Everybody knows she won’t fight. Because you want to be liked!
Tony: Sure makes it hard to get anything done. You delay decisions and therefore progress.

The perils of being liked

See what I mean? While being liked by your staff is important, so is being respected. Over the longer term, employees respect managers who  don’t allow themselves to be pushed around by other employees or units, who deal with under-performing workers, and who can make appropriate and timely decisions. Doesn’t mean they always like the actions you take but, again over the longer term, they respect you for standing your ground.

The next post will replay the original scenario to see how to avoid getting in trouble with your boss and still work toward respect from your employees.

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