March 25

Why You Need To Be A Nice Boss

By Bryan Johnston

March 25, 2014


We’ve all been there. We’ve all suffered through having a tyrant for a boss. Someone who micromanages every tiny aspect of our work. Someone who rarely has a positive thing to say about our job performance. It seems reasonable to expect that someone put into a managerial position would know better, but sadly, there are still many dinosaurs out there that believe a boss should be unliked and even a little bit mean.

Untrue! In fact, the best bosses, managers, and supervisors are the exact opposite. Even worse, we consider a nice boss to be kind of a pushover. Someone not capable of holding a position of authority. Isn’t it sad that the word “nice” has become synonymous with weak, and spineless, and – dare I say – useless?! Nice is not a dirty, 4-letter word (well, it is a 4-letter word, but it’s a good one). So, if you’re in such a position, allow me to present the top three reasons why being a supportive (i.e. nice) boss is of such crucial importance.

A nice boss creates loyal employees

This one seems like a no-brainer, right? So why, then, are there so many unsupportive bosses out there? When your boss takes the time to support and encourage you, you want to do well for him or her. It’s like a parent-child relationship. We all like to hear how well we are doing, whether it’s at work or at home. And we like (duh!) the people that give us that feedback. We like them, and we want to keep them around by working hard for them. Loyalty.

This is not to suggest that as a boss or manager that you can never criticize someone. It’s just the opposite. Loyal employees, when they do receive negative feedback, want to turn that around as fast as possible. The criticism is accepted in the way it was intended. Whereas, if you’re an unsupportive and frequently negative supervisor, employees have little or no reason to change anything. What’s the point? No matter what they do, you won’t like it. And they don’t care anyway, because guess what? They don’t like you either. It’s a vicious cycle.

The supportive, nice boss has loyal employees that want to remain employees for as long as possible. Turnover is lower, job satisfaction is higher, and everyone (well…almost everyone) enjoys coming to work.

A nice boss builds trust and initiative

By trusting your employees, and not hovering over every little thing they do, you allow them to take initiative and risks in their job. Not willy-nilly, of course. Calculated risks that, when they work, can increase sales or productivity or efficiency. If you’re unsupportive, and they don’t trust that you have their back, they won’t take those risks. You run the chance of everyone staying – and happy in – the status quo. And that does not a successful, thriving business make.

Your employees need to know that they have your permission to take those risks. To take the initiative to examine and improve the way things have always been done. To experiment. And if it doesn’t work out as planned, they know they can expect you to at least appreciate the effort. They have to trust that. And you.

I just read an anecdote about a woman who went around to local businesses dressed as Catwoman to drum up advertising for the local cinema complex she represented. It worked, but do you think she would have tried that if she didn’t trust her boss?

A nice boss boosts creativity and productivity

The creativity ties in with the trust. Your employees will be willing – and eager – to think outside of the box for you. They’ll want to impress you. They’ll want that thumbs-up that comes with a job well done.

And as for the productivity, well, it’s all connected to likeability. If your employees like you, they’ll want to work hard for you. If they work hard for you, they’ll obviously get more done. And then everyone looks good. When they look and feel good, they’ll want to continue doing well at work, for themselves and for their great, nice boss (psst…that’s you).

You don’t need to be a pushover, but nor do you need to be a monster, either. Remember that old expression about catching more flies with honey than vinegar? The same applies to happy employees, too. Being the nice boss is not the kiss of death it is often reported to be. Being the nice boss does not exclude you from being an effective boss. Nice and strong are not mutually exclusive.

Be sincere with your praise and flattery. Give criticism and suggestions when it’s necessary and constructive. And everyone wins. Your employees are happy. They feel appreciated at work. Your department (or company) flourishes. You look like the brilliant managerial mind that you are. A smart, business-savvy professional. And a “nice” person.

What could be better?

About the author

Former high school English lit & drama teacher. Current writer, stand-up comedian, & improv performer. A big switch? You betcha.

International expat for 12+ years with stops in Beijing, Dubai, Shanghai, & Guangzhou. Dad to a high school junior & a Portuguese water dog. Lover of funny things & people. Oh, and craft beer.

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