Communication Company Culture Development Difficult People Uncategorized

Is Being Too Nice Getting Your Employees Fired?

I work with numerous clients who have (or hopefully HAD – past tense) employee problems.  

They thought being nice was the way to hold on to their team. They confused nice with kindness. Afraid to lose employees – even the poor performers -, they hold their frustrations back.

They want to be nice, rather than kind.

I describe ‘nice’ as pleasing and agreeable. I describe kind as good-natured, considerate, and helpful.

Huh, you might say?  

Scenario: An employee is late for work (more and more) and has an increasingly sluggish energy level combined with an increasingly nasty attitude.  What do you do?

Supervisor #1: The NICE supervisor does not want to upset the employee, so he continues to be pleasant and apparently agreeable to this behavior. He lets frustration build over time and eventually terminates the employee.  

Supervisor #2: The KIND leader sees this employee going into dangerous territory and stops her in her tracks. He cares about the employee and his business outcomes.  He chooses to resolve the issue. 

Do you have a challenging employee? Try this! Sit with that employee and share your concern. Be clear that you value that employee and genuinely want him or her to turn it around, but that you also need a commitment to change the problem behavior. Do so with respect, a clear expectation, and kindness. Oh, and remember to document the conversation.  

With supervisor #1, the employee continues to spiral and loses her job. The supervisor did not really care about the employee because he would have been clear and lead her to stop the unacceptable behavior. Supervisor #2 and his employee work together to improve outcomes.  Supervisor #2 shows great leadership and they all win.

For whom would you instead work?  Don’t confuse nice with kind. Do not worry about being liked, but rather being supportive and mission-oriented.  The rest will fall into place.

Have those difficult conversations, and do so with kindness.

For free tools on dealing with difficult employees, running effective meetings, and when to promote, go to

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