This topic is often debated with fire and brimstone (what is brimstone?) And I seem to hold a minority opinion. Here it is: I absolutely believe that a manager can be both popular AND effective.
There’s an old saying; “management is not a popularity contest.” Au contraire, dear managers. It is a contest, but it’s also true that popularity is not the only thing that matters. There are additional ingredients in the management soup, as well.
The definition of popular literally means to be regarded with favor, approval or affection. It means that people like you. And popularity matters a great deal if you want employees that are truly engaged in their work.
It matters because people rarely do excellent work if they don’t “want to.” And they surely don’t do outstanding, over-the-top work if they don’t want to. Ergo, if they don’t like you, the “wanna factor” plummets.
Important disclaimer: this is not about the popularity to be gained from buying lunch, drinks or their affection.
Let’s go real life here. Think about a favorite teacher from your distant past. Or a great manager for whom your worked. Somehow, almost magically, did they make it so your “wanna factor” was high? I bet they helped you become the best version of yourself.
One of my tenets for managers is “Thou shalt remember that people don’t work for companies; people work for people” Bash the Manager is a favorite workplace game, but you can change that game. One way to grow your popularity is to deliver on the basics.
And in case you’ve forgotten, here are a few basics:
- provide specific feedback on a regular basis
- set clear performance expectations and put those expectations in writing
- the right person in the right job.
- make sure that people know they have the opportunity to learn and grow.
Your style can be low-key, socially inept, introverted, not adorable and even un-charming. But I promise that you will be a popular manager if you deliver on those basics every day.