How To Handle Employees Using Good Cop, Bad Cop Strategy

Are you in a leadership position in an organization or a company?  If yes, then you probably know the importance of managing employees effectively. Employee management has the power to break or build your company’s success.

Yes! Handling employees is extremely important!

You probably learn many techniques of how to handle employees efficiently. However, in this post, I will introduce a new method of managing employees, which is really effective.

This method is called “Good cop, bad cop strategy.” You probably first heard the phrase “good cop, bad cop” in a movie. But it’s not just a figment of the imagination.

In a word, the good cop, bad cop strategy is a negotiation tactic in which two people working together take on opposing positions in order to gain an advantage over their counterparts.

Can’t get it?

Don’t worry. In this post, I’ll go over what the Good Cop, Bad Cop strategy is, why it’s necessary to manage employees, and how you can put it into practice at work.

So, without further ado. Let’s start.

What Is The Good Cop, Bad Cop Strategy?

Good cop, bad cop is a negotiation strategy in which two parties collaborate to make a distinction between good and bad behavior in order to gain an advantage over their opponent. In law enforcement, this is a common interrogation strategy. In the business realm, the good cop, bad cop negotiation tactic has one “individual” acting in a “threatening, hostile, and abusive manner,” while the other acts in a “non-threatening, friendly, and sympathetic manner.” The goal of the “good” negotiator is to gain the target’s trust and secure a concession, lest the target be trapped with the harsh negotiator’s unfavorable offer.

Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say Tom and Roji are two managers of a company and you are in a business deal with them. Tom looks nice and polite. Whereas, Roji looks harsh and tough. Tom expresses his willingness to meet your interests, but Roji counters with an outrageous, even insulting, proposal. Tom tries to persuade her to make a compromise. Tom now appears to be a trustworthy friend, and you end up accepting his advice.

So, what happens here? Tom and Roji apply good cop, bad cop negotiation techniques to you.

What is the Psychology Behind the Good Cop/Bad Cop strategy?

The strategy uses our natural desire to like people who agree with us and appear similar to us. These two individuals/teams create a contrast. That’s why the good cop’s ‘carrots’ offer appears even sweeter, while the bad cop’s ‘sticks’ offer appears even harsher and this is how we are managing our employees.

The reason why the Good cop, Bad cop strategy works?

Due to the “psychological contrast effect,” encountering both a nice and a harsh person was more effective than just a nice or a nasty person.

Why good cop, bad cop strategy needs?

According to DDI’s 2019 report, 57 percent of employees had left at least one job due to their boss. However, many young managers are trying to change this situation. They try to play the part of a pleasant, soft-spoken friend to their employees. But it is too polite, which resulted in a lack of discipline and a drop in employee’s performance. That’s why we present a variation of the good cop, bad cop strategy where a manager plays both good and bad cop roles.

How do you handle employees using the Good cop, bad cop strategy?

Here comes the main part of the article. In this section, I will discuss, how a manager manages employees using this strategy.

Be personal but not partial: Being a friendly, personable manager, may make people feel more at ease with you and increase their overall performance. It’s also beneficial to get to know each teammate on a personal level. But don’t allow it to get to the point of bias. The goal is to be friendly rather than being a friend. Many employees can detect bias almost instantaneously, and it can be extremely harmful.

Provide both negative and positive feedback: Provide both positive and negative feedback and make sure you’re constantly available to your coworkers when they need you.

Be strict while remaining kind: Being compassionate does not imply that you overlook every violation of business policy or pardon every missed deadline. It means you evaluate the reason for the employee’s behavior and take appropriate action. Most employees are rational enough to see when they have over the line, and a strong word delivered with the proper intent can result in improved performance without bitterness.

Track performance and action accordingly:  You should track the performance record of your employees. If their performance decreases, take necessary steps for improving their performance, such as-

  • provide education and training.
  • Provide feedback and guidance regularly.
  • Arrange performance development meetings regularly.
  • Give rewards for good performance.

If an individual’s performance does not improve after your nurturing, take the required actions, even if it is unpleasant.

Pay close attention to employee suggestions, but make your own decision: Make employees feel valued by considering their thoughts and opinions. Encourage them to share new ideas and opinions that the company can consider. But keep in mind that the ultimate decision is yours to make, and it may or may not satisfy everyone. Your job is to make the best decision you can, even if it isn’t perfect for everyone.

In this post, we present an employee managing technique called good cop, bad cop strategy. By applying this strategy, you can run a company effectively. But be careful. The good cop, bad cop strategy can weaken trust between you and your employees, not to mention your self-respect.


Handling employees in a company is not an easy task but using this strategy will help you a lot. No matter whether you want to improve efficiency of your employees or want to check their performance level, Good cop and bad cop strategy is solution for your problem.

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