5 reasons why you shouldn’t be too nice to new employees

Experts say that being too nice can be harmful for employees

The need to be liked is a natural human instinct. Few leaders want to take the place of the bad guy. 

But experts say that being too nice can be harmful for employees and stop them for progressing in their career in the long term.

We looked at the advice from Michael Fertik, an Internet entrepreneur who writes for the Harvard Business Review, and Professor Michael Watkins of IMD, a Swiss Business School.

You have to earn praise

Brainstorming meetings, where a member of the team raises ridiculous ideas but all the others stay silent, is one situation where you should speak your mind, according to Fertik.

“When something isn’t right, we call each other out on it respectfully, then and there, without delay. Why? It’s not helpful to foster an everyone-gets-a-trophy mentality; you have to earn the honours to get the honours,” he wrote on the Harvard Business Review.

It's kinder to communicate clearly

A good leader needs to resist the temptation to prolong confrontation to see if things will get better.

“It is more of a disservice to let someone flounder, especially when it’s clear that he or she just isn’t hitting the mark. Be kind and communicate clearly, but don’t be nice. Be surgical about it,” Fertik wrote.

Early impressions stick

New hires should receive honest feedback early and in a systematic way, according to Professor Michael Watkins of IMD a Swiss business School.

“Negative impressions of a new hire tend to stick and can be virtually impossible to turn around,” Professor Michael Watkins of IMD, the Swiss business school told the Financial Times.

Watkins says a manager should give new recruits 30 days to reverse the situation to his advantage.

When a recruit ignores your advice “it is never a good sign — you should prepare for their departure,” he said.

New employees could take advantage

Being too nice with your employees or customers can let them take advantage of you or your business. Michael Fertik goes as far as saying your reputation might suffer from it.

“These problems become more difficult to solve as they pile up. You don’t need to be severe to be respected, but you do need to hold your organisation to certain standards — and you must be firm about people meeting them. Setting rules will help you when decisive action is needed. No more delays, no demurring, no debating,” he wrote.

It reflects better on management to be fair

Introspection is a powerful tool and leaders should ask themselves the questions “Am I too nice to myself?”

"When you ask yourself what behaviors hold you and your team back, you can recalibrate your leadership style for the better," Fertik wrote.

A manager who questions himself also gives his employees pace for criticism without the fear of repercussion, according to Fertik. 

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