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Posted by on Sep 10, 2013 in Entrepreneurship, Featured, Food For Thought, Managing People | 3 comments

A Simple Tip To Balance Being Nice Manager and Deliver Results

A Simple Tip To Balance Being Nice Manager and Deliver Results


As a manager, I have always wanted to find balance. On the one hand, I want to be nice. I want my team to trust me, like me, confide in me, and enjoy their time around me and around each other. On the other hand, I want to deliver great results. I want to continually improve and over-achieve as a team and as individuals in the team.

Finding this balance is tough.

The challenge is that if you are “too nice“, you run the risk that people relax and don’t deliver to the potential.

On the other hand, if you are too hard-handed and focus cold-heartedly on results, people feel neglected and eventually choose to move on to other places when they have a choice… and the best ones find other options quicker.

Behind mistake door #1: If you want to be “nice“, it’s a mistake to lower expectations.A common mistake many managers when trying to do find this balance is confusing being demanding with being appreciative. So as a manager, you can make one of two mistakes:

Behind mistake door #2: If you decide to be “tough” by continually asking for more without taking the time to appreciate your team.

When you acknowledge the difference you can be demanding and take the time to appreciate and acknowledge people for the work they do.

– Be generous with acknowledging and appreciating people. You can do it through tangible rewards such as promotions, bonuses, etc. You can also do it through compliments and a few kind words.

– Compliment them on the work they do, the quality of their work, the efficiency, the extra effort they put in, the initiatives they take, the spirit they add to the team, etc.

– Give them credit for their accomplishments (theirs and the team’s). Don’t hog the credits to yourself. Point out their achievements to the “higher ups“.

– Be authentic and specific. The more unique it is to the person, the more s/he will appreciate it because you took the time to notice something in him/her.

– Look them in the eyes: Look people in the eye when you compliment them. Its more genuine and creates a nice connection. Don’t stare longer than three seconds at a time though… it gets creepy.

– Use their name: Dale Carnegie says the sweetest word to a person is the sound of his/her name. Deliberately use the person’s name when you compliment him/her.

– Appreciate them openly and publicly. Even if they are shy, they will feel happy and proud to be appreciated in front of their colleagues, customers, and/or suppliers. It can be a simple kind word when you are introducing him/her to someone “Nada is a star on our team, you are in good hands working with her…

– Surprise them. Compliment them when they don’t expect it. Randomly go up to someone and compliment them on something they did before or a trait they constantly demonstrate (e.g. having a great spirit or taking initiatives, etc).

This is especially important when you are dealing with emotional people (“feelers“) who are very passionate about their work. They will work even harder when they feel appreciated.

What about you? how do you find the balance?


Update: I read a very interesting post that was published the day after this one about the same topic on Harvard Business Review Blogs. The authors conducted a study that compares managers who are “Drivers” (i.e. push performance standards up) and “Enhancers” (i.e. who connect with people and build relationships). The study interestingly found that managers under performed if they did either, but performed very well when they combined the two. So go out there, push for better performance and appreciate and connect with your team.  


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