Mockery is the language of the frustrated.

Thomas Meyer (2022)

The manager is very understanding. The team complains. The manager complains too. Resignation is in the air. At first glance, it doesn't necessarily make sense what "being loved" has to do with frustration and resignation. This makes it all the more important to understand and overcome this trap. Because managers who want to comfort people are fuelling resignation. 


Managers who show solidarity with their employees are popular - but their effectiveness is limited. Supervisors in need of harmony provide a breeding ground for resignation. Such managers confuse appreciation with "being nice".

The cuddle trap is a reality, especially in professions with a lot of customer or patient contact, as employees have to fulfil the needs of others day in, day out. Since everyone needs to find a healthy balance between giving and taking, employees mistakenly hold managers responsible for balancing the scales of appreciation for them.

Antidote: Transparency and coaching

There are always several realities: That of the team and that of the organisation. Expect employees to face all realities. Because addressing the sensitive issues as well as the positive ones - that is true appreciation. Employees have a right to orientation (orientation is resignation-relieving).

In order to avoid the endless spiral of praise, managers need to put themselves in the role of a coach to help employees find their own way to resolve tensions in the workplace and find joy and motivation at work.

This might also interest you:


All leadership traps were developed by Stefan Heer to illustrate leadership phenomena in a pointed way. The cuddle trap is based on the following sources:

Heer, Stefan (2018). Knowledge work and innovation.

Meyer, T (2022). If loneliness weren't so instructive...

Sprenger, Reinhard (2015). The decision is up to you.