It’s the age-old question of leadership: do you want to be loved or feared? Most management experts would tell you that the old, hyper-masculine stereotype of the boss who leaves his employees shaking in their boots is not the best model to follow in a modern work setting.
But how do you get employees to love you?
It’s actually not that different from any other relationship. Some of the interpersonal skills that make you a good friend, family member, teammate or partner will also help you become a beloved boss.
Try these behaviors to become the best-loved manager at your company:
- Be a good listener.
According to surveys, nearly 50% of people quit their jobs because they felt their boss didn’t listen to them. Fully half! That’s huge.
- Apply the Socratic method.
Employees often need help to solve a problem — but no one really likes being told what to do, which can lead to awkward situations. Instead, learn to ask leading questions, known as the Socratic method, to help them answer their own questions and solve their own problems. They get the help they need, but they also feel empowered. Win/win.
- Stay positive.
Being positive is not about being unrealistic, but rather about finding the positive in any situation. People prefer to be around happy, positive people. It’s also been shown scientifically that if your employees spend time around happy people (ie: you), they will be happier too.
- Be confident, not egotistical.
These are two sides of the same coin. Confidence comes from knowing and believing that you can handle the situation. Egotism is telling everyone about it whether they care or not. Confidence makes other people feel good and secure. Egotism drives people away.
- Get to know people.
It doesn’t matter if you have a staff of just a few people or dozens, you should be able to address each of them by name on sight and know a few things about their personal lives. Make it a goal to get to know each of your employees at the most basic personal level.
- Employ total recall.
One great way to demonstrate that you’ve been listening and getting to know people is to bring up something they talked about earlier. For example, if an employee mentions on Monday that his kid plays a sport, ask that employee about how the game turned out the following Monday.
- Be sincere with compliments and praise.
When an employee handles something well, be sincere and open with your compliments, and public with your praise. Most of the time, a verbal pat on the back will go a long way to helping your employees to like you.
- Handle criticism with tact.
When you need to offer constructive criticism or feedback to an employee, do so in private and with great care. No one likes to be told they’ve made a mistake, but if you handle it properly, they may actually be grateful that you helped them improve and grow.
- Ask for advice and opinions.
Take your listening one step further and solicit the advice and opinions of your employees. People love to feel they have made a substantive contribution to an effort or cause.
- Be clear about expectations, but don’t issue orders.
The best way to avoid confusion and complications in a work situation is to be excruciatingly clear about expectations, deadlines, quality, and the like. But try not to be the commander barking orders from on high. Often, explaining why a thing needs to be done a certain way or at a certain time makes requests seem less arbitrary and even more important in context.
The manager who can strike this balance will not only be beloved by his staff, but also command their loyalty and respect. Being well loved by your employees doesn’t mean being a push-over or letting them walk all over you; instead, it’s about creating relationships of mutual trust and respect that can be extremely powerful in the workplace.