I have run off, hindered, and ruined more direct reports than I want to admit. Too often, I told myself I was being a “nice boss,” because I didn’t hold people accountable. I didn’t want the confrontation. It would be unpleasant, and I wanted a pleasant work environment. As long as I viewed it as confrontational, it probably would be, but I began to realize it wasn’t confrontational if it came from the desire to help. Have you ever lost an employee you shouldn’t have lost because you didn’t hold them accountable? How many employees have you ruined? 

Many potentially productive employees have been hindered or lost by managers who thought they were being “nice.” If you want to help — and truly be nice — do what needs to be done to help your people improve. Do you honestly want to help your subordinates? Let employees know how they’re doing. It’s not fair if you don’t.

Years ago, I told my manager I wanted to fire an employee because they weren’t doing their job. My manager listened to me, then called the employee into the office. He asked the employee how he thought he was doing. The employee felt he was doing a good job, and explained why. After the employee left the room, my manager looked at me and asked, “How would it be fair to fire anyone who doesn’t know they’re NOT meeting your expectations?” It was a lesson I’ve not forgotten.

Help, Don’t Hurt

  • Give clear expectations with activities, expected results, and time frames
  • Inform people when they’re not meeting expectations
  • Teach people how to meet expectations
  • Don’t go to a third party with a complaint; go to the employee
  • Never delegate without follow-up
  • Review job descriptions
  • Distribute and train written procedures and policies
  • Don’t accept sub-standard performance — improve it
  • Offer constant, ongoing training

So, What’s the Deal?

Here’s the deal — it’s not that complicated, although at times, it does require courage. But remember, it’s not confrontation if it’s help. Do you want to be nice? Because if you want to be nice, do what’s in the best interest of the employee.

I once had an employee with personal hygiene issues. She worked in a small office area and she smelled — badly. It came to my attention when her co-workers came to me and complained. No one had said anything to her, and although her performance was acceptable, they all wanted her fired. I sat down with her privately, explained how the hygiene affected the small work environment, and asked if there were any physical problems out of her control. She explained her husband had lost his job, and she didn’t want to burden anyone, but they were living out of their car. She agreed to share this with her co-workers, who all offered help. Eventually she became one of the hardest working, most loyal, and best liked employees within the organization.

So, How Many Employees Have You Ruined?

Have the courage to help others reach their potential – don’t hinder, hurt, or ruin them by using “being nice” as an excuse because of your fear of confrontation.

If you’ve been in management, what difficult workplace situations have you addressed? How many have you let slide? How did each affect the employee and the workplace culture? How many employees have you ruined?

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a  management training plan? Many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by William Randles on Unsplash