It’s a tough call to make. While being respected is the end goal, we all want to be liked! It’s a natural want. People in positions of responsibility, power, and influence are no exception.
Nothing wrong with wanting to be liked. But if you make a career out of it, then you’re making a huge mistake. It’s far more important to be respected by the people you serve. And if they genuinely respect you, they will likely LIKE you too.
Take Arnold. Arnold worked his way up to supervisor in a manufacturing firm. He was kept in the same department so he could maximize his technical skills and experience. Of course, Arnold wanted to succeed but he was also anxious to keep friendships with his kumpares intact. He didn’t want them to think that the promotion has gotten to his head.
He kept to his old routine. Thursday nights were still reserved for the few beers with his men at the corner sari-sari store. He’d play a few rounds of pusoy with the boys and when someone had a bottle too many, Arnold would give them Friday morning off, knowing they’d be useless (or even a risk) at work with a hangover. So the chismis was out that nothing had changed. Arnold was still the friendly, dependable Arnold they used to know.
Unfortunately, Arnold found it hard to reprimand or discipline anyone at work. He overlooked their mistakes more and more. He wasn’t strict with prolonged coffee breaks and lunch periods, nor was he the type to report anyone when someone was late.
And so the inevitable happened. In less than four months since Arnold took over, his department was a mess! Production was always short and the quality control was in shambles. Accidents also kept happening more often. Yards of expensive fabric and tons of materials had been wasted.
Soon, Arnold was called to the office. The same guy who promoted him had given him a stern warning. Arnold tried to regain control by implementing stricter measures but the men rebelled completely! There was flagrant disobedience and machinery had even been sabotaged.
No happy ending here. Arnold was eventually fired. Management hired from outside and the department was back in control.
Whose fault was it?
Arnold made the mistake of trying to manage his people while at the same time, keeping those old sentimental relationships with them.
The company, on the other hand, made the mistake of keeping him in the same department because they wanted to utilize his skillsets and expertise.
No matter whose team you’re on, Arnold is still primarily at fault because HE PLACED MORE IMPORTANCE ON BEING LIKED THAN RESPECTED. This puts him in an awkward position to DEMAND respect. Had he prioritized being respected rather than liked, he would’ve been able to COMMAND respect instead of demanding it.
This is a true story (with names changed and the company name and industry withheld, of course). But similar situations can ring true for any work setting.
Here are some techniques Arnold could have utilized to COMMAND respect.
- He should NOT have accepted favors from subordinates. – This unspoken rule is often violated not just in government but in many organizations as well. The moment you accept a favor, you are obligating yourself to do another favor in return. This can lead to blackmail, inefficiency, bribery, and corruption.
- He should have avoided making popular decisions or doing special favors to be liked. – This doesn’t imply that you shouldn’t help your subordinates. Help them, of course, with the job and with their personal problems if they ask. But never overlook anyone’s fault on the job. Bad work, absenteeism, drunkenness, tardiness, and the like shouldn’t be tolerated. In addition, popularity is short-lived. Do this and you place yourself at the mercy of your employees.
- He shouldn’t have socialized or partied with his old buddies –While we have nothing against fellowship, when you share a few laughs, agree to be ninong or ninang, or even invite someone to your home, reprimanding them for cause is next to impossible. Just remember that when the boss gets involved socially with the people he leads, he’s no longer the boss!
Managing people is a tough job — which is why not everyone can be an effective leader. There will always be tough choices to make, relationships to reconsider, and principled options to take into account.
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