I was reading the Harvard Business Review blog the other day. They divided managers into four quadrants according to how well they were liked and then discussed how their associated teams did. The findings were devastating to managers who were not liked. Managers in the lowest quadrant for likeability had almost no teams who were in the most successful quadrant. However, those teams with the most likeable managers on average performed on a much higher level. The finding was, that the more likeable the manager was, the more successful the team will be on average.
So, how does this apply to managers of business process outsourcing companies? India is where the majority of outsourcing is done these days with the Philippines and China catching up fast. Due to the culture in India: having a management position gives you status in society. It is hard to get a decent marriage without a management position as a matter of fact! The problem is that Indians think too much of their status in society and how to make a show of superiority to their workers. Some outsourcing managers in India are very nice, but many are overburdened and very rough with their workers. According to the likeability study, this is a serious problem.
If a manager of an outsourcing company has 20+ workers under them (often the case in India), and they are unavailable most of the time, and threatening the other part of the time, how will the workers perform? The answer is that there will be many issues due to the lack of guidance and lack of nurturing. My personal experience is that workers need interaction with their managers to keep on track with their work. They need encouragement and praise on a regular basis in the form of feedback. They also need to know what they need to work on and some validation that you think they can really do it (especially when learning a new skill). If you are just unavailable, then you can not give any guidance, feedback, or double checking of work. If you are mean, then workers will have a bad taste in their mouth about work.
In my experience, the minute an outsourcing worker gets a bad taste in their mouth about whomever they work with — they turn off. I am not speaking of every human being in this world, but many people are like this. I have had numerous experiences where I started out with an average relationship with an outsourcing worker (often outsourced from a different company). Work went fine. The minute we had some disagreements, their work became really bad, and stayed bad for the rest of the relationship. They either quit or got fired after a few months.
Since you are almost forced to be likeable as a manager, what do you do when you can’t accept a worker’s work? Some people are just plain sloppy, or give horrible answers to questions. How can you praise such people? You need to give at least five compliments for each criticism to have a good long term relationship in work or friendship. It seems that you need to fire people who you can not be likeable around, otherwise the negative environment can poison your relationship with others!