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Work Productivity and Hacks

To Be A Better Worker, You Need To Stop Being Too Nice

By Joseph Cueto on March 3, 2015

At work, it’s always a good idea to be nice, cooperative, and compassionate to your fellow co-workers, superiors, and various stakeholders. But what happens when you become too nice? What types of “too nice” behaviors are actually detrimental to the team’s, and on a macro-level, the company’s performance? An article by founder Michael Fertik in the Harvard Business Review gives us the answer:

Many yield to this instinct [of being nice], because it feels much easier to be liked. Few people want to be the bad guy… Being too nice can be lazy, inefficient, irresponsible, and harmful to individuals and the organization.

News flash: Fertik’s article may also be of significant relevance to Filipinos, who, are known to be non-confrontational folks and resort to beat-around-the-bush tactics to preserve harmonious relationships at work. It’s human nature to want to be liked, but according to Fertik, there are other situations where being too nice in the office just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be:

Polite deception

In the middle of a crucial issue at work being discussed as if the future of the Western civilization was at stake, the CEO puts forward an out-of-left-field idea that deserves a laugh track of its own. Instead of speaking up, your morning meeting turns into a scene straight out of The Emperor's New Clothes -- employees pretending to see the good idea that simply isn't there. If employees don't call each other out (respectfully, needless to say), everybody suffers from implementing said ridiculous idea. It's a waste of company resources and of everyone's time.

The long linger

Hired someone who, it turns out, fits like a round peg in a square hole? The easier thing to do might be to just keep him there and hope he does better. Easier for you, that is. You're not doing him any favors by allowing him to persist in an ill-fitting role. You won't be doing the rest of your staff any favors either if everyone else has to make up for what he lacks. If someone is just not getting the work done, be decisive and nip the problem in the bud. Assign the worker to a new capacity or hand him a pink slip.

Don’t be a doormat

Being too nice to the point of letting others take advantage of you is a no-no. Giving underperforming personnel and undeserving customers way too much slack? Get ready for employee resentment, and worse, turnover.  You need to set and enforce established standards and be very clear about it.

Failing the introspection test

Time to take a deep breath and look inside. Fertik espouses the use of a great leadership tool called introspection. The process involves asking the tough but essential questions: Am I too nice to myself? In what ways does my being nice prevent my team from reaching the next objective?

If you just realized you’ve been playing the too-nice role for so long, congratulations! Your path to being a decisive, firm, and assertive leader is underway. Knowing what you know now, comment below on how you find the right mix between exercising positive values and being too nice.

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Photo by Sergio Ruiz