The Yes Blog

Is being nice wrecking your results?

A boss or executive discussing matters with his employees, trying to avoid being too nice.

Do you ever find yourself wanting to be liked by your team so much that you let performance standards slide? Building trust is crucial for any team’s success. But how do you give and receive feedback in a way that strengthens trust, not weakens it? In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of setting clear expectations and holding individuals accountable, while still fostering a trusting and supportive work environment.

The Problem with “Nice”

Many leaders fall into the trap of being too “nice” by letting performance slide or avoiding difficult conversations. While this approach may seem harmless on the surface, it actually breeds resentment and destroys trust in the long run. This passive-aggressive behavior sends mixed messages and creates an environment of uncertainty.

The Power of Clear Standards

The foundation of effective feedback is having clear and measurable standards. Everyone on the team needs to understand what is expected of them. This eliminates ambiguity caused by setting one standard and then accepting another lower standard. It ensures everyone is working towards the same goal:

→ Improved performance: When team members know the bar, they can consistently strive to meet or exceed it.
→ Enhanced consistency: Established standards ensure a consistent level of quality and output across the organization.
→ Increased fairness: When everyone plays by the same rules, it fosters a sense of fairness and reduces the risk of favoritism.

Challenges of Requiring Accountability from Your Team

Once you have established clear standards, it’s essential to hold people to those standards. This doesn’t mean micromanaging or being punitive. Instead, it means providing regular, specific feedback and guidance, and having open conversations about performance, but holding individuals accountable can be challenging for leaders. Here are some common roadblocks:

→ Fear of being disliked: Leaders may hesitate to address subpar performance due to the fear of being seen as harsh or uncaring.
→ Unclear expectations: Vague or poorly defined standards make it difficult to objectively assess performance and hold individuals accountable.
→ Lack of trust: Without a foundation of trust, employees may perceive feedback as criticism rather than an opportunity for growth.

Building Trust Through Consistency

Fortunately, there are strategies to overcome these challenges and create a culture of accountability that benefits everyone:

→ Set clear and measurable standards: Define expectations in a way that is specific, objective, and quantifiable.
→ Communicate openly and regularly: Regularly discuss performance standards with your team, ensuring everyone understands individual and team goals.
→ Provide ongoing feedback: Offer constructive feedback in a timely manner, focusing on both strengths and areas for improvement.
→ Focus on solutions, not blame: When addressing performance issues, concentrate on finding solutions and supporting employees in reaching the desired standard.
→ Lead by example: Demonstrate your own commitment to the standards by consistently upholding them in your own work.

Remember, It’s Not About Perfection

It’s important to distinguish between setting standards and striving for perfection. Creating a culture of accountability doesn’t mean expecting flawless performance from everyone. Instead, it’s about establishing a clear understanding of expectations, providing constructive feedback, and working together to achieve continuous improvement.

Setting clear standards and holding individuals to those standards are crucial for effective leadership. At the same time, it’s equally important to approach this process with kindness, respect, and a focus on continuous improvement. By building trust and fostering a culture of open communication, you can ensure that accountability leads to positive outcomes for both individuals and your organization as a whole.


A recent client CEO told us, “We were walking on eggshells. Now, we’re telling each other what we need to hear.” If you’d like help creating that transformation in your company, please feel free to reach out.