DO NICE EMPLOYEES FINISH LAST? Business is not an easy game to play. Individuals are sometimes tempted to put their interests above those of others. Unethical individuals capitalize on the misfortune of fellow workers. The Harvard Business Review found that personal feelings toward an individual are more significant in the formation of productive work relationships than the person’s competence. The ability to connect with others is increasingly important, as the global business environment requires individuals who can collaborate with diverse teams of employees and outside contacts. Companies expect staff members to work on project-based teams more frequently in the next 10 to 15 years. Individuals who are pleasant and personable will have the greatest success in forming productive professional partnerships. A positive, friendly disposition can be a valuable career asset. There is a difference between being nice and being a pushover, however. People who try too hard to be liked may seem disingenuous or out of touch with reality. Some professional situations simply require individuals to take a stand, even when it would be easier to ignore the circumstances. Being overly accommodating can result in shouldering a disproportionate amount of work, losing out on promotion opportunities, and suffering from burnout. For example, offering to stay late to help a colleague finish a project before she leaves on vacation is a gesture that may build goodwill and increase the likelihood that the coworker will lend you a hand when you need it. Being too nice, on the other hand, occurs when you stay late every night because you have a hard time telling colleagues that your plate is full. The result is burnout from not being able to balance work and leisure. Another example of being nice is receiving kudos from a satisfied client for a job well done and forwarding the message to those who worked on the project with you to let them know that everyone’s effort was appreciated. The entire team receives a morale boost. Receiving praise from a satisfied customer and giving all the credit to everyone else on your team because you don’t want to seem self-serving is an example of being too nice. Your accomplishments go unnoticed and your superiors do not realize the true value you bring to the firm.

 THINK CRITICALLY 1. What is the fine line between being nice and too nice at work? 2. Why is it important to give colleagues the credit they deserve? 3. What is the danger faced by efficient employees who willingly take on responsibilities and complete projects on time? 4. How would an unethical employee handle praise for a task successfully completed by a team?


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