“How do I get my employees to like me?”
Good Question!

Generally speaking, who doesn’t want to be liked, right?  Most normal, sane people do. Temperament plays a role in who likes us, but it’s not the end-all. But, does your team need to like you or simply do what you tell them to do?  Let’s look at both perspectives. I’ll bet at the end of the article, you won’t ask “How do I get my employees to like me?” because you’ll know the answer! Guaranteed.

Perspective 1: Your employees don’t like you?

“Who cares if my team likes me?”

“I just need them to perform.”

“Right. I’d rather they obey me than like me.”

This mentality sounds dangerously close to management by fear, doesn’t it? Fear-driven management rarely maximizes team performance. Instead, it breeds bitterness and resentment. Think about your life. Every day you likely encounter people you must obey. 

It could be a police officer parked on the side of a road holding that wicked silver pointy radar gun. Or it could be a construction worker with a sign that says “SLOW”. I’m sure you’ll obey both, but that doesn’t mean you’ll go the extra mile for them if they asked.  Nah. You’ll only do what is required. In fact, the minute you’re out of their sight, you’ll probably go back to old habits and speed along your merry way.

That’s exactly how many folks feel about some managers. They do just enough to stay out of “hot water”, but nothing more. They cut corners, misuse resources, and jump ship as soon as something better comes along. So, I’m not a big fan of this management style.

Listen to my podcast on this subject!

Perspective 2: Your employees like and respect you.

“Sure, I want my employees to like me and be invested in my vision.”

“Yes, because if they like me, they will work harder for me and the company.”

“You never want to let down people you care about; yep, my staff should like me.”

Remember the presidential candidate who won the race largely because he was someone folks would most likely want to have a beer with. Translation: they liked him.

When we like people, our emotions become involved. Emotions are closely linked to feelings. When we feel happy, peaceful, excited, and joyful, it reaches our most primal core. We feel a sense of well-being.

Antonio D’Amasio, professor of neuroscience at The University of California explains the difference between emotions and feelings:

“Feelings are mental experiences of body states, which arise as the brain interprets emotions, themselves physical states arising from the body’s responses to external stimuli. (The order of such events is: I am threatened, experience fear, and feel horror.)” 

Feelings have value in the workplace

Feelings have physiological implications. Feeling bad emotionally can make you feel bad physically.

Think about it. Have you ever felt terrific until you walked into a negative workplace? Your spirits drop, so do your shoulders and your head begins to ache. Tension mounts in your neck. It could be bad feelings and emotions manifesting in your body. Time to look for a new job – at least it would be for me.

I digress.

When employees “like” the management, their professional output is more likely to produce good feelings. These good feelings make work less of a chore and more pleasant.

Sure, employees will do more and produce more for a manager they like. It makes them feel good. It makes them happy to go the extra mile. 

Why? Because, as I said, it makes them feel good.  I recall doing things I was petrified to do in the interest of making my manager proud of me.  I’d conquer several professional challenges and personal inconvenience (like travel) in an effort to make her happy. It was a win-win for her and me.

Yeah, I’m team “like your manager.” How about you?

Making sense?

Are you sold? Good. Now, let’s discuss the question: “how do I get my employees to like me”? Before I give my take on the subject, let me tell you about a real-life example of a likable manager.

I’ve blogged about her several times. I was on her team for almost ten years at a nonprofit organization in Kansas City called YouthNet. It’s been several years since I’ve worked with Deborah Craig, but I remain in touch with her to this day…because I like her. No, now I love her like family. 

I can’t quite put my finger on what she did to make me like her in those early years, but she did. In fact, the entire team felt the same way about her.

The irony is she and I didn’t have much in common. We came from completely different worlds, we don’t agree politically and we even have different spiritual and world beliefs.  In spite of being polar opposites, we bonded due to her stellar 360-degree leadership. I don’t know exactly what she did as a manager to make me like her so much.

What she did…

However, if I had to put my finger on it, I’d say Deborah cared about her team as individuals and not just subordinates. I don’t know if she cultivated it or had a natural gift for seeing exactly who each person was and what they could become. Then, she would invest in them and, then, offer opportunities for them to soar.

As for me, Deborah knew I could be a great trainer even before I did. She discerned my natural talents and gently pushed me toward them. This means she had me certified in Advancing Youth Development, Epstein’s Six Types of Parent Involvement, and, yes, True Colors.

A once shy, introverted young professional found her life calling because Deborah Craig “saw” her, inquired about her passions, and then equipped her for achievement. I’m forever grateful.

Back to the original question: How do I get my employees to like me? Here’s what I think.

Great managers care…about the people. Who wouldn’t like them?

It’s only normal managers are concerned about business goals, performance, and the company’s bottom line. Still, the catalyst for each of these is the people

Yes, people – whole beings with feelings, souls, and emotions. Smart managers leverage each of these to motivate peak performance and build loyalty.

For instance, think about staff meetings. Smart managers consider how the team might feel about the data, changes, and process of the meeting. They contemplate possible reactions and the emotional toll they might take on the team. They survey them to find out what team dynamics work best for them. They are interested. They want the team to leave each meeting happy and invigorated – not burdened and depressed. They care.

They are professional “psychic”.

Well, not really. But, good managers cultivate the strengths to just be “in touch.” They can look at each employee and see what they can possibly become within the company.  They get to know each person and listen to what is important to them. They ask questions and discover a person’s passion – inside and outside the company. 

Back in the day, Deborah Craig discovered I loved the communication and that I was a thinker. From that, she saw the “potential trainer” that could serve YouthNet and youth-serving agencies.  Smart, likable managers see past the present and see what can be. Think of it, you just may be the catalyst for changing that person’s entire life and career.  Deborah changed mine.

Pay for it.

Regardless of your budget, you can invest in your employees. The investment may not be monetary. You may not be able to afford my $300 an hour fee for a True Colors workshop, but you can research online and find resources for your team members.

Follow me on Twitter (@TCBtheTrainer). I always post personal development articles you can print or email. Whether you invest with your training budget or your time, sow into your people. Another option is to share a book from your personal library that will resonate with your team member. Or just take them to lunch and just listen to what they care about.

Who wouldn’t like a manager that cares about them, sees wonderful potential and invests in their success?  Want them to like you? This is how.

Don’t treat Your Employees like you want to be treated

4 Things To Do If Your Team Doesn’t Respect You

Get your employees to like you

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Leveraging the 4 personality styles to help you when working with different personalities in the workplace

What I do:

Leveraging the 4 personality styles to help you when working with different personalities in the workplace.  I also discuss often how business personalities play a role in how you approach work and manage work personalities in general. I also answer the question” “how does personality influence communication at work?” Your temperament plays a role in everything. I love talking about it and exploring exactly how!

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