20th February 2017 |
Charlotte Brown: The Likeability Puzzle

Our newest Guest blogger Charlotte Brown shares her insights and thoughts on how to navigate and establish a healthy and successful work/life balance. 

This is part 2 out of 12.

The Likeability Puzzle – is being liked at work vital for career success?

A year or so ago, I remember having coffee with a friend who was unhappy at work. She was clashing horns with a tough client and wanted more support from her team. She described meetings when she felt her team just didn’t have her back.

I asked about how her team got on in general, beyond work focussed conversations. Does she know much about them? Do they go for the odd drink together or discuss the latest Netflix series to binge watch? She said “No, not really.”

When I asked her why, her response was this: “I was told years ago not to be too friendly with people at the office. It’s not professional, I just want to get my head down and work.”

This came up again more recently with Jess* a coaching client. She came to me for help coming to terms with a recent redundancy. Jess felt angry and confused about losing her job and believed she had performed well in her role. She couldn’t understand why she hadn’t been valued more by her boss.

We dug deeper. I asked how positive her work relationships were. And it started to make sense to Jess. She discovered at the core her problem was this: She wasn’t friendly and didn’t really interact with her colleagues, and as a consequence, most didn’t understand how well she did her job.

And even when they did understand – she wasn’t well liked by her colleagues so…no one fought to save her.


Invest in your likeability

In both instances, Jess and my friend shared a belief that may have been their undoing. They believed that making a conscious effort to raise their likeability at work would lower their perceived competency and professionalism.

But hang on, study after study proves that we’d rather work with someone nice and slightly incompetent, versus someone we don’t really know/like who is very good at their job.

Ideally, you already have that magical combination of being incredibly well liked and brilliant at your job! But if there’s room for improvement, here are a couple of interesting articles that suggest likeability should become part of your career success strategy.

The secret to a good working environment is just to be nice
Google spent years researching hundreds of their teams to identify and understand what it takes to create a successful, happy and productive workforce. The conclusion… being nice.

But what is it that makes us like someone at work?

How people judge you
Amy Cuddy, Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist says trust and respect are key. People see these in two ways, through your warmth and competence. In her research she also found most people, especially at work, believe that competence is the more important factor. After all, it proves that they are talented and skilled enough to do the work. But in fact, warmth, or trustworthiness, is the most important factor in how people evaluate your likeability and value as a colleague.

Your work friends could be key to your career success
Some great reasons why we are happier and do better work when we have some work pals.

So ask yourself, are you likeable?  Are you friendly? Are you making an effort to get to know people? Most important: Do you think people understand what you do and why it’s important to your company?

If not, maybe its time to make a brew for your team and have a good ‘ol chin wag.


Feel like you still need more help? Get in touch to find out how career coaching can help you achieve career and life success and balance:

–*not her real name. 

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