I think of myself as a pretty nice guy. But over at BlogU, the anonymous blogger named "Dean Dad" would not be impressed: "I'm increasingly convinced that one of the most common flaws of so many administrators is a misguided urge to be nice."
The problem, he says, is when you are overseeing people. New supervisors sometimes encounter an employee who has been a longtime problem for the organization. And yet according to the personnel file, everything has been fine. The previous supervisor didn't want to hurt the employee's feelings, and thus the new supervisor has no records to indicate the problem's severity.
Things can be even worse when there's tenure or unions involved. The whole situation quickly becomes nightmarish.
His solution is to be fair rather than nice. Keep standards high, even when that means documenting faults carefully. Create the paper trail, even if it takes years. Be likeable, but don't have a need to be liked.
I like that "Dean Dad" sees this in moral terms:
To my mind, "niceness" is a much lower-order good than fairness. Fairness dictates keeping in mind the damage done to everybody else, and to the mission of the place, by the low performer.
Read the entire blog post here.