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Work isn’t a popularity contest, and it shouldn’t be

Katie Jansen
Jul 17, 2015

Entrepreneur recently ran a piece I wrote about how letting go of being liked at work can do wonders for your career. In it, I maintain that staying focused on what really matters — results! — rather than other people’s thoughts about you empowers you to say “no” when you need to, builds your confidence, and helps you to stay focused.

The piece seems to have struck a chord, so I’ve thought some more about how being candid rather than hung up on co-workers’ feelings is really better for everyone in the long run. Often, when you cut to the chase and push people to be their best, you’re really showing your co-workers that you care about them and about them becoming better.

Early on when I first became a manager, I fell into the common trap of doing things myself when someone whom I managed didn’t complete a task the way it needed be. I would jump in, take it over, and finish it. But I soon realized that while this approach helped me to avoid confrontation and got the job done faster, it really wasn’t doing any favors for me or the employee. They didn’t learn, and I was getting burnt-out — fast.

Now, I take a different approach: I take the time to explain why something needs to be changed or improved, and I push my team to keep going until together we get it right.  Sometimes, I’ll admit, that’s not a popular strategy. Over my career, I’ve supervised many people who have probably cursed me under the breath when I edit their work, ask them to do more, or keep them late to get a project to where it needs to be.

But, in the end, we all often learn a lot along the way. The end product — the result, which is really the most important thing — is usually better than the first stab, and better than it would have been had I just taken over and done it myself.

Prioritizing working together to get great results over handholding is part of the culture at AppLovin, and I’m certain that’s had a lot to do with why the company is so successful. We hire results-oriented people, and it shows.

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