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  • Riley Steinbach

The Dangers of Being Too Nice of a Manager

Managers want to be supportive and friendly to their employees to gain their trust and to 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 nice manager and being a tough manager 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 (let alone constructive feedback).


This can lead to managers being overly nice to their employers, thinking that this will make them like them more. However, this actually doesn’t create the work environment needed in order for the company 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, there is a chance they will become disengaged in the workplace because they believe they are doing everything right, so why try and get better. In fact, 92% of respondents agreed with the assertion that negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately helps improve performance. This can lead to plummeting productivity in the workplace. If employees aren’t receiving any direction on the job, then the work might get done but it won’t be done right. If managers don’t insert themselves in their employee’s success and provide the feedback that they need to excel and improve, then employees will never know they need to.


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. Simply put, if you want to increase employee engagement, consider making consistent feedback a habit in your organization.


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. In fact, 24% of employees will consider leaving their job if their manager is providing inadequate performance feedback.


3) Strained workplace relationships

If you are too nice of a manager that you don’t want to hurt your employees’ feelings by telling them what they have to improve on, you may end up creating more work for yourself. For example, 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 for your own tasks and instead completing theirs. In the end, this can cause resentment from that employee who may see little of their efforts in the final products. Instead of giving the employee the chance to fix their mistakes and improving from correcting them, you are taking away from their growth and potentially halting your own productivity.


Not giving constructive feedback is a lose-lose situation: if you are too nice to be able to tell your employee where they can improve, then they will not know they have done anything wrong. If they come to you asking for a raise or promotion thinking that they have been doing an excellent job, you will have to discuss that they are not ready for a new position and why. This lack of communication on the manager's side can cause strained workplace relationships, and worse off potential resentment on both sides. Problems can cultivate when you pretend things are fine and that there is not an issue with their work. At the end of the day, it is better (and kinder) to stop someone from making the 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”. 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!


#feedbackculture #employeerelationships #employeeangagement #performancemanagement

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