Over the last couple of decades, there has been a huge wave in professional spaces to make the atmosphere and relationships a lot more “human.” It’s not frowned upon to make personal friends with your colleagues, dress codes have become more lax, and rituals such as fixed hours or annual reviews seem to be less and less common.
The workplace has adopted a new personality. It’s adopted a level of understanding. Corporate culture today can be characterized as laid back, and dare I say it, fun. Personal work relationships is not only quite common, but in most settings, it’s encouraged. The better you know the people you work with, the better you’ll get along and build a solid relationship, the happier each employee will be, the more productive the company will be. The recipe makes sense, and it works.
While this setup breeds the opportunity for a more holistic and successful workplace, it also poses a potential threat if it were to be taken advantage of.
If you’re a boss or hold some leadership position, you may feel the pressures of being a “fun” and “cool” boss weigh on you. Having close relationships with your employees is one thing, but drawing the line between work and play is tricky to master. An article by Harvard Business Review puts it perfectly, “Leaders are placed under a tremendous amount of pressure to be relatable, human and … nice.” Nowadays, no one wants to be the bad guy, bad cop, a stickler, or anything of the sort. People want to be liked, especially bosses.
Being nice is an admirable attribute, sure. Let’s all be nice. But let’s also know when it’s time to be a leader and make tough decisions and stand by them for the betterment of our organization.
You can be a nice leader without being too nice. Finding your balance in this new workplace culture can be tough to navigate, but we have a few tips to help you find your mojo.
Make Decisions. Quickly.
Being decisive and firm will earn you respect from your employees. When forks in the road appear, know where you stand on each topic so that you can make quick choices. Knowing who you are as a boss and how you like things to be done will make it easier for your employees to understand and follow suit. Be consistent with your professional decisions.
When you make tough choices, or any choice at all, always follow through. If you reverse your logic or are easily talked out of something, your employees may feel that have more power in situations than they actually do. This could create a challenging problem for someone who is “too nice.” People with this quality are often peacemakers and people-pleasers. As a boss, those roles can’t be successfully pursued.
Keep your mind open, but don’t be a pushover or unreliable with your decisions. Hold your ground. It’s not being mean, it’s being firm.
Don’t Excuse Others
When your employees are slacking off, turning projects in late or incomplete, or doing anything less than what’s expected of them, you probably feel inclined to excuse their underperformance. You give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they had a credible reason for their behavior.
The truth is, though, that unless they’re experiencing a personal hardship or trauma, there’s not many other credible reasons out there. If you excuse one person’s incompetency, that sets a standard for you to excuse everyone’s. Your team will not only lack performance, but they won’t take you seriously. The instructions you give as a boss will be considered optional and your expectations will likely never be met.
Hold people accountable for their mistakes. Resist your natural urge to sympathize, and begin to make and execute concrete consequences for less-than-adequate actions.
You’re Not a Therapist
Everyone has a personal life. It’s a part of being human. Everyone has their own internal balance of their professional and private life. Bringing a level of your home life to work with you is normal and encouraged by many companies. This helps people develop close relationships at work and enrich the company culture.
However, there needs to be an understanding that your personal life can not hold you back from your professional duties. As a boss and manager of people, this is a concept you need to understand better than anyone. When people cite examples from their personal life as an excuse for their underperformance, it is not okay. Absolutely, there are circumstances when this rule does not apply, but those circumstances are rare.
Every single person is struggling with something. If everyone slacked off at work due to their every misfortune, no work would ever get done. You do not get paid to be a therapist. It is not in your job description. You can be sorry for your employees when they come to you with incomplete work and a pouty face, but you can not let that stop you from holding people accountable.
You like to be liked, we all do, but you need to remind yourself to stay focused on what your job is and what you need to do, and others to do, in order to bring prosperity for your team and company. When challenges arise, find peace in the fact that you are not being mean when you’re being firm. You’re just being a boss.
iGenCo can certainly help you and other people in your office learn how to handle these situations with various trainings. You can learn more about them here.