Do your employees hate you? That’s just bad business

July 24, 2009


Tough-talking Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz sure knows how to get the media’s attention. Virtually every quip she’s ever uttered — including her famous “Tell me why I shouldn’t fire the whole lot of you” line — has been happily devoured and dissected by reporters looking for juicy quotes.

It makes for a great story, but you’ve got to wonder what it’s like to work for her.

A recent article from suggests that bosses like Bartz might want to lighten up — not just because it’s good for office morale, but it may also boost their company’s bottom line.

Writes author Nancy Mann Jackson:

“Quite simply, if employees like and respect you, they’re more invested in your company and interested in its success. They’re willing to work harder and give more. But if they don’t care about you, they don’t care about your company.”

Not exactly rocket-science, but it’s an idea worth considering, especially in today’s morale-crushing economic times.  Since the recession kicked into high gear last year, there’s been no shortage of reports warning about undermotivated, overworked employees struggling to keep up with growing workloads while worrying about losing their jobs.

But forward-looking leaders would do well to nurture office relationships, particularly during tough times.

“This is when managers typically go into ‘avoidance mode,’ and as a result productivity goes down and morale goes down,” said Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ, in an interview with Reuters.

The better approach, he says, is to give employees a sense of purpose. Just don’t fall into a coddling trap. In research to be published in his forthcoming book, Hundred Percenters: Challenge your employees to give it their all and they’ll give you even more, Murphy found that most employees would prefer a boss that pushes them to achieve their full potential instead of one whose sole concern is making them happy.

Maybe Bartz is on to something…

Do you think being liked by your employees is good for business, or do bosses have to be the bad guy? Tell us what you think below.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

This is kicking in an open door, if you treat your people with respect they fight for your business, treat them like crap and you got to fight to keep your business.

Posted by Nikkei 225 | Report as abusive

Communication is an art. The humane way a boss treats employees has exponential effects on employee performance. Bosses who show leadership, tactfulness, empathy and pragmatism often inspire their work-force to higher performance levels and productivity. Of course their expertise and vision are crucial for the company’s success in these difficult economic times. Employees want fair treatment with their talents and efforts fully recognised and rewarded.

Posted by Pancha Chandra | Report as abusive

It is better to be respected than liked. Setting a common goal, communicating that goal effectively, and effectively motivating your employees is the job of any leader.

Whether your employees like you or not may depend on the day, the hour, or the moment. That’s not the point. They simply have to agree with you. I agree with Pancha that communication is something to work on. Not to be liked, but to gain a common ground – and a common goal.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive

Bosses have to toe the line and how they treat their employees must be fair and with respect.

“Stick or Carrot”, it all comes down to what works. I prefer stick and carrot and then let them decide.

Different approaches for different people.

Posted by Scopulus | Report as abusive

A sense of investment by employees is synergetic, like bringing together pieces of plutonium. Those neutrons bring you success you don’t get from lead, when everybody’s battling strictly for themselves, by hook or by crook. The tough part is that you have to have the same sense of investment. That gets a little weird, especially for personalities who become managers. Of course, if your business is antisocial anyway, that’s also tricky. Aside from that, I agree that coddling is excess.

Posted by Pete Cann | Report as abusive

I have learned the expensive and hard way that each employee is different and must be treated different. Bosses have to know when to be the nice guy, the bad guy, the coach, the mentor, the disciplining party, etc… It’s a very dynamic position to be in. My personal experience, in a small business setting, is that employees will always try to get one over on you regardless if you are the good guy or bad guy – it’s human nature. The key is to have safe guards in place so that “getting one over” does not cost money, time, customers, or property.

Posted by AB | Report as abusive

It looks very good. It’s been a long time since I so enjoyed reading posts in the net. Two thumbs up! Two thumbs up!

Posted by mbtshoessale | Report as abusive