Blog Post

Balancing Kindness & Authority in the Workplace

Being kind and authoritative in the workplace is not often seen as a compatible duo. It’s easily viewed, in the past, to consider kindness as a weakness, rather than a strength in a professional atmosphere.

Unfortunately, kindness in the form of words and gestures gets lost when in a stressful work environment. This onus lands on everyone who is involved though, as attitudes mirror who you are communicating with. If the workload is becoming too stressful, people tend to become shorter with their reactions.

Adding to this, another fallout from Covid-19 is the lack of everyday face to face interaction. The small conversations that you have with co-workers, the catch-up chat on a Monday morning, little jokes and thoughts that pass the time in lull of work. These small niceties help break up the day and soften the blow when harsher or stronger words are said. When working remote these buffers are lost and can dramatically affect mental working conditions, and the reception of the critical feedback.

One survey in the US has found that most employees would prefer a nicer boss over a $5,000 pay rise. Being kind and respectful is key to this; most employees respond better to encouragement and respect rather than money. Being recognized at work helps reduce employee burnout and absenteeism and improves employee well-being overall.

When receiving an act of kindness research shows this person will then pay back and forward. When managers and employees act kindly towards each other, they facilitate a culture of collaboration and innovation.

Below are some points that we have compiled on how we believe that you can be kind without losing position of authority:

  • Really listen when having a 121 or someone is expressing an issue – being fully present will encourage more of a response from your employee.
  • Taking the time to educate yourself, your management team and your staff on mental health and creating a supportive professional environment.
  • Being open to helping employees without being overzealous with monitoring progress or targets.
  • Welcoming ideas and suggestions from your employees, whilst also being honest when the ideas are impractical.
  • Showcasing a calm demeanour when angry, trying not lose your temper – this will make you more approachable should there be issues.
  • Validating your employee’s personal challenges, showing an effort to provide comfort and monitoring for signs of distress.
  • Praising good work but maintaining clear standards for the work that is expected. You still want your business to thrive at the same time as boosting morale.
  • “I know you’re doing the best you can” – vocalising and recognising your employees’ efforts.
  • Be respectfully distant, but approachable. You can’t lose sight of the fact that you’re in charge, alongside being friendly and treating your team.
  • If a mistake has been made, focus more on solving the problem and being constructive when having a difficult conversation.
  • “Thank you” – say it with sincerity and say it often.

Willcox Matthews are strong advocates for having a family environment in our team, which we are learning to adapt to as we expand. We do, however, feel it is vital to encompass a kind environment for our employees so that they can always feel comfortable at work.

With Thanks to:

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