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My employees hate me. What should I do?

Your intentions are good.

You want people to do their jobs well.

You work hard and you expect others to do the same.

You try to communicate clearly and fairly.

But for some reason, your efforts aren’t appreciated and it feels like your team hates you.


Being a leader is hard. And often, being a leader means making decisions that are unpopular, and possibly even making people upset. Is it even possible to be the boss AND have your team like you?

While that may seem impossible, we’re here to tell you it’s not. You can be the leader that your team deserves. You can be a leader your team is excited to follow.

There’s one key element that many well-intentioned leaders miss out on, and it always causes issues within their team: Relationship.

Leadership guru John Maxwell often says, “No one care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Said differently, your employees will value what you say much less if they don’t believe you care about them personally.

This diagram below illustrates two different approaches to how leaders try to impact people around them. The first approach is “for self.” It starts with the leader offering the solution or directive to their own problem or need. It can be effective, but it is also self-serving. The second approach is “for them.” The leader starts with a felt need of the person they are leading, then helps the person get a win, which creates space for the leader to offer the solution they have in mind, but now to someone who is open to hearing it.

In other words, to have the relational impact we want, we have to start with relationship before opportunity.

On a team where the team members don’t like the leader, it can almost always be boiled down to this statement: “I don’t believe the team leader is looking our for my best interest.”

That’s not to say that leaders should prioritize individuals’ needs over the needs of the team. They shouldn’t. But we also shouldn’t assume that those two things are mutually exclusive.

Take time to process how you, as the leader, can make team members’ needs align with the needs of the team/organization. As soon as you can do that, and as soon as you can help your team see how that is true, they’ll start to trust that you have their best interests in mind, rather than just being about the bottom line. And as soon as they believe that, they’ll begin to actually want to follow you.


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