While our recent article about using manners on the job discusses several key issues about workplace etiquette, there are other factors involved with being too nice at work that should be noted. While the points covered in this post may not be directly relevant to health and safety concerns on the job, it is something for employees and employers to think about.
When a person is too nice at work, it can spell trouble for the entire environment, namely because this polite person may also have the propensity for being a pushover. This can trigger multiple consequences such as other people not doing their jobs simply because someone else will. The nice person may even become a scapegoat for workers who are not doing what they are supposed to do. When things go wrong, the finger of blame is often pointed at the too-nice person who is even too polite to defend themselves.
When the too-polite person is a supervisor or part of a management team, their extreme etiquette can become more dangerous. Workers who feel they can get away with things because their boss is not aggressive enough can create potential work hazards. Being too nice as a supervisor can mean that employees who should be disciplined are not receiving prompt attention when safety situations arise. Even something simple as horseplay on the work site can result in fatalities. Supervisors need to be able to speak up without fear of hurting people’s feelings. Otherwise, they are putting the whole work force at risk.
Basic manners are absolutely necessary but there must be a line drawn between being polite and being a pushover. Using common words of praise, gratitude, and generosity can carry a lot of weight among employees, co-workers, and management teams – not to mention the fact that common courtesy and happy people make for a much more pleasant, coordinated work environment.