Being a great manager means bringing out the strongest attributes of every team member – regardless of whether or not you like them. Learning to manage employees that you do not necessarily get along with is absolutely critical to the success of your business. And while this can be a difficult process, we have some tips that can help make it as smooth as possible.
A lot of management advice assumes that you are working in an ideal environment with ideal employees. It does not always translate to the real world. If you have spent any time managing a team, you know that it is often far from ideal. In reality, we must deal with conflicts on a regular basis. These less-than-perfect situations will happen no matter what we do – the real challenge is to learn how to effectively navigate these situations when they inevitably occur.
One of the most common “unspoken truths” about interpersonal workplace management is that not everyone is going to get along. Chances are, there will regularly be employees that others do not get along with. It is also likely that you will need to manage someone who you do not necessarily care for.
The first thing to recognize is that: This is okay. We do not need to like everyone that we work with. And just because we do not like someone does not mean that we cannot effectively work with them. In fact, companies need to have different perspectives and ideas in order to thrive. If every employee thought the same way, then we would never have any new or truly innovative ideas.
If you happen to be faced with managing an employee that you do not particularly care for on a personal basis, try to remind yourself that they still bring something valuable to the table. It is important to remain professional, and for you to put any personal biases behind you. You have an obligation to treat everyone fairly and with respect.
This could be enough for you. But, of course, the workplace might be a more enjoyable place if you could put your differences behind you and actually learn to like and care for the difficult employee. You can do this by seeking to understand exactly why you do not feel a strong connection to them. They could have a personality trait or habit that turns you off. By understanding what and why this is, you can begin to build a bridge between you two. Or, at the very least, you will be better armed to communicate with them effectively.
It would also be beneficial for you to take the time and make the effort to get to know the individual. More often than not, bad impressions are a result of a misunderstanding. Maybe their shyness is coming across as rudeness. Or perhaps they keep doing an annoying habit over and over again because that is how they had previously been trained. A simple conversation could resolve a lot of problems and result in a stronger – and happier – working relationship.
All employees are different (obviously). Focus on the qualities of this individual that you like or respect. Identify the positives that they bring to the table, and call to mind these points. It is critical that you treat your entire team fairly and with respect – regardless of how you may feel about them on a personal basis. If other team members sense tension within the group, it could negatively affect the group dynamic, leading to burnout and turnover.