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Managing to Make a Difference by Larry Sternberg

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Chapter 3Go Ahead, Get Close to Your People

Many managers are taught, “Do not get too close to your people. Be friendly with them, sure. But you need to know where to draw the line.” Sound familiar? Unfortunately, practicing this approach diminishes your ability to motivate and retain your top performers. Again, you have to choose your basic philosophy. Do you want to conduct your relationships so that it is easier to fire people or do you want to respond to people in ways that enhance retention?

What level of relationship should you have with your coworkers? Where should you draw the line? Our answer is: Do not place limits on the depth of your friendships with coworkers. The world is full of misguided thinking that passes for wisdom. People are taught not to get close with their coworkers or with their direct reports. Do not heed that advice.

Think about the reasons that people tell you not to get too close.

  1. “Familiarity breeds contempt,” is one of the most commonly repeated reasons.

If that statement were true, the people who have the most contempt for you would be your closest friends and relatives!

Here is the next reason people advocate not getting too close to your employees:

  1. “You may have to discipline that person.”

The fact that it is emotionally unpleasant to discipline someone you are close to is a good thing. You will first try to persuade them through conversation that they will be better off if they change their behavior. The closer your relationship, the more ...

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