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Thursday, May 28, 2009

But I want my employees to like me....

Yes, we all want to be liked. It's a natural human desire. We like others and we want them to like us. This is great in a friendship, but it rarely works out in a) parenthood (don't get me started on that) or b) boss / employee relations. Friends do things for each other because of mutual liking.

The problem is that many leaders confuse "like" and "respect". It's not uncommon for leaders to think the way to take care of their people is to do things their troops like or to look the other way when the employees do things they shouldn't do. "If I'm mean to Bob or try to apply some discipline then he won't like me and won't do what I want." Ever heard that before? Friendship can muddy the waters at work.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not at all saying you should be mean or ugly (read yesterday's post). You can be friendly without being friends. It's a little harder when two people are friends and then one becomes the boss. The trick there is for both to know when it's time for "friends" and when it's time for "boss/employee".

The key is to:

1. Set expectations up front. Let your people know the way you do business and what they can expect from you. If you start out with the friend thing and then decide you have to "tighten it up" a little, you're going to be in a world of hurt. If you start out professional, you can always back off some once things are going smoothly.
2. Be fair and even-handed. Treat everyone openly and honestly and equally. Be respectful of your team members as human beings and adults.
3. Hold your team accountable to your expectations and their job duties.

Let's face it; you weren't hired to be Mr. or Ms. Popular. You were hired to get a job done...just like your people were. If you follow the keys above, what you will receive from your team is RESPECT and coupling that with a friendly atmosphere can make work a nice place to be where jobs get done like they're supposed to.

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