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How Do Colleagues Really Feel About You?

Most managers want to be liked by their co-workers. It's human nature to want to be liked by the people you spend your days with. And most of us spend more time with our office mates than we do with our families. Research also shows being liked will help your career more than even being competent.

So it stands to reason that as much as you may care about meeting company goals, and bottom lines, you also should care about how your co-workers and staff feel about you.

But how do you know what they really think? Very rarely will people tell you directly. So you have to be adept at reading their behavior--and your own. Here are four signs:

1. They often argue with you
This is a good sign. People do not argue if they don't care. Workplace arguments are healthy because it means people are invested in outcomes.

If you haven't had an underling push back in the last week, then you have staffers who are under-invested. They don't care. You've ticked them off. They have decided that you aren't worth their time.

The best thing you can do to remedy this situation is to show people you care about their opinion. How? By thanking them for their suggestions, admitting you're wrong and changing your path. Do it now, before it's too late and no one is ever willing to tell you you're wrong.

2. You haven't had to apologize in a while If you don't say you're sorry once a week at work, then you're not honest about your mistakes. And people are sick of it. You shouldn't wait until some epic mistake--you've run over a child or poisoned a stray cat--until you apologize. Apologize for the for small, everyday mistakes as well. It's a sign of respect and caring to say you're sorry. Which is why you can be pretty sure your employees hate you if you don't apologize regularly.

Start now to fix things. But remember that body language and tone matters. You can't fake an apology and make it matter. A fake apology actually aggravates the situation.

So manage in your heart, first, to honestly believe you should have done better. And whatever you do, don't say, "I'm sorry but--" An apology doesn't have a follow-up clause. It doesn't have a summation.

The most powerful thing to say after "I'm sorry"? Nothing.

3. You're good at the details
Guess what? Management is not about details; it's about people. You have to love people to be a good manager and trust those people to be good with details because they are conscientious, capable people who care about their work. If you are caring about details more than people, then you are treating people as if they are not capable, and then, of course, they will perform that way.

It's easy to be incompetent when that's what the boss expects. But look out, because
people who perform poorly feel bad about their work. And if they feel bad about their work, they probably resent you for that.

So here's a suggestion: Trust people. Put faith in them. Manage people in a way that allows them to take care of details. If you don't like how they manage details, fire them. But it does no one good for you to do the details for the people you manage.

4. You think you can be a better manager
If you think you could improve, you're probably right. If you think you're doing just fine, you're probably wrong. This research comes from Tiziana Casciaro from Rotman School of Management. Casciaro says that people who are focused on improving a given trait at work can almost always make good progress.

Also, if you think you can improve, you display the type of optimism that is contagious. Because optimism (and pessimism) are contagious and the manager sets the tone for the team. An optimistic team will like you even if you're having a bad day - or month. A pessimistic team will think you stink, even if you've been putting in a decent performance as a manager for years. Perception of your team is what matters. But maybe you already know that.

If you do, you're probably already a manager people like.

image courtesy of flickr user, Populares de Cantabria