Is it important to like your manager?

A friend of mine goes back to work next week after a year of maternity leave. She’s going back to the same senior merchandising role that she’s been doing successfully for 9 years but on a different product department and with a new team. With this change comes a new manager- not a new recruit to the business, but an internal staff change. So we got talking about whether my friend likes her new manager or not, and whether in fact, this was even important.

We came to the conclusion that liking your manager didn’t necessarily mean that you worked effectively as a team.

For example, another friend, Claire, was great mates with her previous manager outside of work. They had the same wicked sense of humour and had shared some important personal life experiences. But at work, the manager’s guard went up. She didn’t want the rest of the team or her seniors to see her non-work personality. And Claire found this really difficult. Her quips would be met with a frosty stare leaving Claire confused. It affected her motivation and the quality of her work. Eventually Claire moved on and she and her previous- manager-friend became even closer when removed from the work environment.

Being over-friendly at work can cloud management decisions. It can also make delivering tough news even tougher. Imagine having to performance manage your friend or even make her redundant. I don’t know many people that would be comfortable in that situation.

That said, being liked at work and liking your team can lead to a more honest relationship which can aid effectiveness. And surely ‘getting on’ with each other makes work more ‘fun’, which in turn makes the team more productive? Reicheld’s service profit cycle holds that happy staff means happy customers which drives profitability.

Motivation comes in many forms and if liking your manager motivates you to be better at your job then that’s a great plus for the business. I could give a couple of examples where I have gone above and beyond what’s been required, purely because some important work relationships have been tugging on a personal level at the back of my mind.

At the end of the day, I guess whether you like or dislike your manager, it’s mutual respect and professionalism which are more important behaviours for good working relationships.

What do you think?

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