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The Dangers of Being Too Nice of a Manager


Managers want to be supportive and friendly to their employees to (i) gain their trust and (ii) build a positive workplace. With the end-of-the-year performance conversations coming up, managers are starting to prepare their feedback for their direct reports.

For managers, finding the right spot between being the friendly manager and the tough one can be tricky. It is important for managers to have positive relationships with their employees, while still being able to provide constructive feedback.

Despite managers understanding the importance of giving feedback, many managers are still afraid to give any feedback (positive and constructive feedback). This can lead to managers being overly nice to their employers. However, this actually doesn’t create the work environment needed in order for the company (and the employees) to be successful. In this article, we will outline some dangers of being too nice of a manager.

1) Disengaged employees

If employers are constantly being told they have done a great job and that they have nothing to improve on, they can soon become complacent and eventually become disengaged in their work. (i.e., if they believe they are doing everything right, why try and get better?).

Managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement. There should be constant feedback being relayed to employees so that they are continuously developing – this results in them being more engaged at work. One study found that 43% of highly engaged employees receive feedback at least once a week. If you want to increase employee engagement, consider making consistent feedback a habit in your organization.

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2) Unmotivated employees

Most employees are excited to get their careers underway and learn as much as they can from their managers. If these eager employees aren’t receiving any constructive feedback, they can interpret this as their manager not wanting them to evolve and grow.

Feedback and the opportunity for growth is particularly important for Millennials and Generation Z workers who want more constructive feedback. Without it, this can result in a lack of confidence, a lack of inspiration to improve, and an overall feeling of being stuck and unmotivated. This can even lead some employees to start looking for other jobs; 24% of employees will consider leaving their job if their manager is providing inadequate performance feedback.

3) Strained workplace relationships

We get it – giving feedback can be difficult. Managers don’t want to hurt their employees’ feelings with constructive feedback, but managers should realize that the lack of developmental feedback will hurt themselves and their employees in the long run.

Think about this scenario: if an employee hands in an assignment that you [the manager] notice has many mistakes, but you are too scared to let them know that they need to fix it, you may find yourself losing time completing your own tasks because you are instead completing theirs. In the end, this can cause resentment from that employee who may see little of their efforts in the final product. Instead of giving the employee the chance to fix their mistakes and improve, you [as the manager] are taking away from the employee’s growth while also halting your own productivity.

Not giving constructive feedback is a lose-lose situation: if a manager is too nice that they cannot give any constructive feedback, then the employee will not know what they have done wrong. What if that employee expects or asks for a raise or promotion during their yearly review thinking that they have done an excellent job?

Bottom line, lack of constructive feedback will create strained work relationships and potential resentment on both sides of the desk. At the end of the day, it is better (and kinder) to stop someone from making a mistake than to let them make the mistake over and over again.

“It’s really important we distinguish between being nice and being kind in the workplace – they are not necessarily the same thing.” – Sonali Goel, Working with People Podcast

So how can a manager avoid being too nice when giving feedback?

In brief, educating employees on effective feedback, requiring examples of their performance, including 360 reviews and self-reviews, and improving feedback quality and quantity are all ways to help avoid being “too nice”. See this article for employee feedback examples.

Want more details? Check out our other blog on how to avoid the ‘too nice’ performance reviews. Also, feel free to check out our podcast “Working with People” with Sonali Goel on the problems of being too nice of a manager for more details on this topic.

Did you ever have “too nice” of a manager? Let us know your experience!

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