Studies show that kind managers make employees perform and thrive better, and stay longer at work.
Being kind as a manager means several things. For example, showing concern for employees, defending them (as opposed to blaming them), daring to trust them to do a good job, and being generous with positive feedback.
– There has been a picture of you have to be tough to be successful, but modern research shows that kindness is an important quality as a manager, says Lukas Levay, psychologist consultant at Aon Assessment Solutions that develop personality tests for recruitment and staff development.
At the same time, many managers find it difficult to be kind. It is not least clear from all studies that show that the most common reason for employees to resign is that the manager does not show sufficient appreciation.
Be extra kind in times of crisis
Being kind can be difficult in times of crisis. Many managers are stressed and may only meet employees in digital reconciliation meetings.
– This means that the spontaneous contacts disappear. But it’s perfectly possible to be kind via email, chat or phone, says Lukas Levay.
He also believes that it is extra important to be kind when there is a great deal of anxiety in the world, and some employees may feel that it is difficult to focus or that their motivation is running out.
– It’s not about becoming someone’s therapist, but showing that you care, says Lukas Levay.
Kindness promotes innovation
Another reason to be kind is that it creates psychological security. Google did a great study of what makes some of their teams more successful than others. It turned out that the most important factor was psychological security, that is, people dare to say what they think, flag for problems and make mistakes.
Psychological security also leads to increased creativity, which is crucial for companies to be able to be innovative and survive in the long run.
– Innovation requires many ideas, and then many must be bad, statistically. If the employees feel great security and dare to come up with 30 bad proposals, something good will emerge, says Lukas Levay.
Practice your kindness
So what do you do if you do not feel that you are good at showing kindness? Then just practice. For example, set a goal to provide three times as much positive feedback as negative. Or to give each employee praise at least once a day.
– It may feel artificial at first, but in the end it is, says Lukas Levay.At the same time, he wants to emphasize that it is not enough to be kind to be a good boss, but that a combination of qualities is needed. In addition to kindness, it is also important to be reliable, deliver high quality, and be a good role model.
Question the "genius"
And how should we think about all the famous bosses who have not been kind at all, but rather been capricious and scolded people in time and out of time?
– I would say that they succeeded even though they were not kind, and that we should question “geniuses” who behave like idiots, says Lukas Levay.
The basis for being kind as a manager
- Be respectful
- Health for all
- Show that you trust your employees
- Give positive feedback – and much more positive than negative
- Stay calm in all situations
- Ask how people are doing, and what they need to do a good job
- Listen more than you talk
- Dare to defend your employees
- Do not be ironic or sarcastic
Lukas Levay is a psychologist and leads the sales team at Aon Assessment (Sweden) AB. In his daily work, he focuses on solutions for organizations to function optimally. Lukas is also interested in the well-being of individuals and works pro bono as a conversation therapist at the association Storasyster. Here interviewed by her colleague Lena Bergqvist.