There are two types of workplace friendliness. One that fosters a workplace that we like to call ‘Pleasantville’, and the other that forms part a constructive, high performing culture.
Pleasantville is a place where everyone is indeed friendly to one another, but where conflict is avoided for the sake of harmony. It is characterised by being far too comfortable with high levels of dependence, where employees are reactive rather than proactive. Above all, routine niceties abound, promoting harmony for the sake of pleasantness. For those familiar with the Human Synergistics Circumplex, Pleasantville often exists in very green workplaces.
The problem with loveliness is that it doesn’t produce high quality work. Most people think that friendliness is about being nice, but genuine caring involves confronting key issues and initiating positive conflict for the better of the team and the organisation as a whole. This forms part of true friendliness, a quality which can (and should) exist in the workplace, developing a highly motivated, high performing team. Warmth, humour, sociability and comradeship in the workplace are still also part of this, where people genuinely care for one another.
Friendliness often gets a bad rap because of the tendency towards Pleasantville. It can often be perceived as a weakness, with unfriendliness – and even aggression – seen to be a part of strength, great power and overall success. Don’t be mistaken. Trying to make yourself stand above the rest of the team or, in contrast, purely trying to make everyone happy, isn’t strong and isn’t friendly. Authenticity and honesty is what gains true respect and trust from your team, and is what defines true strength of leadership that is crucial for establishing a constructive and high performing workplace culture.
Who are you being at work? Let go of power trips or trying to please, it is exhausting. Be genuine, true to your friendly self and therefore energised and high performing! It’s the best for yourself, the team, and the organisation as a whole.