Too nice!

In my career I have not had a lot of reviews but that works for me. Formalized feedback processes are tough at any level and in my experience get more challenging the higher you go.

That said the single negative piece of feedback I have gotten, from three different companies is, “Andrew you do a great job with the team and results and working with your peers, but you are simply too nice.”

I have agreed to this criticism each time. I mostly interpreted this as needing to push the underperforming members of my team harder to perform better or find somewhere else to be. Not fun but fair. Allowing low performers to hang on too long is not good for the team.

That said I never agreed with the management approach that posits being aloof and tough even on good contributors gets you more total productivity. The following HBR lays echoes a lot of my reasoning well and I was feeling like a bobble head as I read it.

https://hbr.org/2014/11/the-hard-data-on-being-a-nice-boss

I have no studies to cite but feel that in software development the ‘need for nice’ is even more critical as development skills are highly portable and in demand. Good developers, qa and product professionals just don’t need to put up with jerks.

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3 responses to “Too nice!

  1. I find that ‘too nice’ is some times an euphemism for ‘not aggressive enough’. I think there is a difference from being a mean boss and a manager who help drive productivity and sets cadence

  2. Agreed, “too nice” could mean not aggressive enough in the drive to productivity though there is a balance that needs to be struck there too. In my experience the business wants more than is possible with the engineering team available. Pushing towards unreasonable goals even “nicely” is in fact a really terrible ideal. That said letting people off the hook when they are not working hard towards results is also clearly unacceptable. You need to really understand whats going on with the team and the results at a fairly deep level to strike that balance well.

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