Build or burn?

Admired, not liked

Your boss is not your friend.  The people in HR are not your friends.  Your friends are your friends.  Don’t get these mixed up.

The biggest mistake inexperienced bosses make is to try to be liked by their staff.  By all means be friendly but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can be friends.  You cannot.  You can get close, but ultimately there will always be some distance.

When you are a boss, you have power over the lives of your employees and that means you can never be friends.  If your employee’s performance drops, you will have to tell them to buck up.

The second biggest mistake inexperienced bosses make is to think their job is to ‘look after’ their staff, as if they were a father or a mother.  That is not correct.  Your job is to get results.  Your staff may or may not deserve to be ‘looked after’ but, in any case, it doesn’t matter.  Your staff are at their work, not at home, and your job is to manage them.  Often this means you can be nice, but sometimes it means you have to be nasty.  You cannot always give people what they want and will have to say ‘no’ to their requests sometimes.  Any under-performers will have to be given candid feedback.  You may even have to make some redundant.  None of this is mothering or fathering.  It is managing.

Oh dear!  It sounds as if it will be lonely at the top.  Rubbish.  It’s great fun.  You’ll have friends.  It just won’t be the people that work for you.

Most managers learn these lessons soon enough.  If you try to be a liked by your staff, they will not thank you.  They will not give you credit.  They will bank any concessions you offer and come back looking for more.  You will not have their respect.

If you are a new manager and finding your status a bit lonely, I suggest a coping mechanism is to take your work seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously.  Work can sometimes be slightly silly and easy to ridicule, so don’t be afraid to laugh at it.

If you want your staff to think of you in a particular way, try to be admired, not liked.

View all blog articles