Can a Manager Be Too Nice?

upsetHaving a great manager can boost productivity.  But last week, I heard about a company in chaos due to a manager who wanted to be NICE.

Here’s the scoop: A local company was acquired by a national company.  The office staff grew, and the manager who used to have only a small staff now manages an office of more than 20 people. And after six months of this new management, things are in chaos.

You see, this manager doesn’t like to confront issues.  He has people who arrive late and leave early.  Some call in sick excessively yet are seen around town when they’re “under the weather”.  Other employees—the ones who do their jobs well—have brought these issues to the manager, who promises to speak to the offenders himself – but he doesn’t follow through.  The top producers are ready to leave from frustration because they are overworked and have no support. Motivation is at an all-time low.

What is going on?  This is a predictable response from a personality that is a GREAT supporter but avoids even potential conflict.  He doesn’t want to upset anyone.  Unfortunately, he is upsetting his most productive people by, in their eyes, protecting the slackers.

No one ever intends to create bad outcomes.  If you are a manager, you may want to follow these simple rules to motivate your people.

  1. Set clear expectations about job performance.  Every position needs to have a job description which includes not only WHAT needs to be done but HOW it is to be done.
  2. Have, and enforce, a written process regarding timeliness, appearance and personal responsibility.
  3. Reward people who perform well.  These are the folks to receive bonuses, compliments and support.
  4. Promptly address undesirable behavior.  It doesn’t matter whether it was deliberate or unintentional.  Undesirable behavior that goes unchecked impacts the motivation of others.
  5. Develop “Rules of the Game” for your company.  These are the guidelines for establishing a healthy environment and creating win-win relationships.  One example: “Avoid gossip.  Bring issues directly to the person who can do something about it.”
  6. Managers can benefit from understanding their own personality patterns as well as those of their teams.  To learn more about low-cost personality profiles, CLICK HERE.

Unfortunately, it is too late for the company in this article.  Their top producers are already unmotivated and will stay only until they can find other jobs.

Having just ONE poorly trained manager is likely to cost this company millions in lost revenue – something the upper echelons could have avoided with relatively inexpensive training and systems.