As a boss, it’s difficult to know when to befriend your employees and when to assert yourself as their superior.
Often, supervisors feel they cannot be both beloved and respected around the office. Instead, they tend to choose one or the other.
Sometimes, bosses achieve neither.
Take, for example, William Ernst, the owner of a Bettendorf-based chain of convenience stores called QC Mart in Iowa. A state judge called his actions “deplorable” after he was sued for offering prizes to workers who could predict which of them would next be fired, according to the Des Moines Register.
After realizing the game was not a joke, cashiers at the QC Mart quit their employment.
One-such cashier, Misty Shelsky, told the Des Moines Register that Ernst had a long history of unprofessional conduct in relation to lower-ranking workers, saying to the Des Moines Register:
“This guy was the boss from hell.”
Although an extreme example of bad boss behavior, sometimes we all fall victim to strong words, a quick tongue, and, generally, unconstructive criticism. Especially when faced with associate misconduct or errors, attorneys—simply human—may need a simple reminder that a kind word goes a long way.
It turns out, though, that kindness as a working state of mind is not only a maternally birght idea, but a statistically-sound business strategy as well.
According to a recent Harvard Business School study (via NY Daily News), workers appreciate a boss with technical competencies, but, when given the choice, a tremendous majority of people prefer a likeable person over a highly skilled person who is a poor communicator.
Surprised? So was Google. The media mogul decided to confirm these study findings with its own research. Laszlo Bock, Google’s Vice President for the company’s equivalent of Human Resources, first reacted to Google’s results with, “That’s it?”
According to the New York Times, who first reported on Google’s research, employees wanted first and foremost, “even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers.”
And that’s it, that’s the answer.
To be the best boss, you should be communicative, caring, and, well, nice.
It’s important to realize that when you trust your team, you earn trust and produce superior work in return. Google’s findings create the best banner against micro-managing.
“They don’t like being told what to do. They’re just, ‘Give me the facts and I’m smart, I’ll decide,’” Michelle Donovan, a manager of people analytics who was involved in the study, said to the New York Times about effective management styles.
When filings are due, work extends after hours and on weekends, and young associates make first-year mistakes, remember that people are more receptive to kind words. And, when business calms down, supportive communication and niceties lead to praise as being a great boss.
In terms of direct profits and productivity for the firm, a likeable leader retains more qualified lawyers longer and happier.