Should companies hire and promote people to managerial
positions who are well-liked or good performers? The
answer to this question is not either/or but rather both.
The best managers are those who are good performers
themselves and well-liked.
A person can be well-liked and be an ineffective manager.
Such individuals are more concerned with running a
“popularity contest” and having direct reports stroke
The “other side of the coin” is the manager who purposely
exhibits a rough persona and proudly claims, “I’m not here
to be liked, I’m here to get them to perform.” These
managers often believe that fear is a motivator for good
performance – the Drill Sargent Syndrome. Fear simply
motivates people to a level to just keep their jobs, not
perform at their best.
Neither of the above two approaches are the best.
Research has proven that a manager cannot be the most
effective and create an environment where people can do
their best if the manager is not liked by his/her direct
HR POINTER: We need to clarify what the term “liked” means
in a managerial setting.
Liked does not mean (1) be a drinking-buddy with everyone
in the office, (2) providing exceptions to policies that
cannot be applied across the board, (3) covering-up
mistakes of employees, (4) looking the other way when
people violate company practices, (5) failing to hold
employees to standards of performance and behavior, etc.
Liked does mean focusing on valued behavior (i.e.,
performance and interpersonal expectations that allow
everyone to become the best they can be). Being liked
also means providing positive reinforcement for the valued
behaviors that the manager sees people exhibiting.
Quite simply, when a manager provides positive
reinforcement, employees feel that the manager cares about
them and they want to associate with that manager – hence,
a well-liked manager.
Study after study has proven that the vast majority of
employees stays with a company or leaves a company based
on the relationship they have with their direct
When given a choice between hiring or promoting two
effective performers, one well-liked and the other not
very well-liked, the choice should be to hire the