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What is “T. Rowe Nice?”

Advice from a Tenured Associate

T. Rowe Price is a global company with a small-town feel. Even people you worked with years ago will cross your path and ask about the trip you’d planned to take when you two last spoke. In my first few months on the job, I realized everyone was nice, I mean really nice. It seemed as though everyone said “hello” or “good morning” when passing in the hall or stepping into an elevator.

But there can be a downside to working in such a positive environment. When the desire to keep things pleasant is too strong, it can lead to suppressed conversations and words unspoken. Case in point:

Definition of “T. Rowe Nice”

One of my first projects at T. Rowe Price was a big product launch. There were numerous stakeholders and moving parts. After weeks of meetings, I finally thought we were in a good place. Several people in one of the status meetings said they liked how things were coming along. I couldn’t wait to give my boss the news!

I was floored a few days later when my boss said someone in the meeting told him they wanted to take a different approach and I needed to re-do a few things. I couldn’t understand why no one spoke up earlier.

This was my first exposure to “T. Rowe Nice.”

“T. Rowe Nice” can also be found in manager conversations. If your manager is hesitant to hurt your feelings, you may not get complete feedback. Sure, it’s great to be acknowledged for your successes, but constructive criticism makes you a stronger professional. You want the truth and you can handle it!

Don’t get me wrong. “T. Rowe Nice” is rooted in genuine concern for associate achievement. Our culture is infused with a collaborative spirit, anchored by associates working side-by-side to propel our company forward. Everyone has a voice, regardless of title.

Confident associates share their ideas, take ownership of their work and contribute to their teams. T. Rowe Nice occurs when there is hesitancy to share feedback that could make a less confident associate question their value and their voice. However, on the flip side, few things are more detrimental to one’s confidence than thinking your colleagues aren’t being candid with you.

To navigate “T. Rowe Nice,” I recommend:

  1. Encourage people to politely disagree. If you get a vibe that things are “too good to be true,” just say, “Are things really OK, or are people just being T. Rowe Nice?”

  2. Find your T. Rowe Price tribe to get deeper feedback. I have a clear memory of a time I was given tough love by a friend. We were both in a meeting in which I had no desire to participate. I was stressed out, with multiple deadlines looming, but assumed I handled myself well; that I hadn’t let my angst or disinterest show. The next day, my friend invited me to coffee and called me out on my behavior. I didn’t want to hear it, but I listened, without interruption. Those types of relationships are worth their weight in gold.

  3. Be direct with your manager, so your manager will be direct with you. Tell your manager you need feedback to learn, grow and contribute to the team. Ask for real-time coaching opportunities, so you can quickly course correct. Lastly, have robust conversations during performance evaluations and ask for specific recommendations for development areas