No matter the size company you work for, large or small, it’s almost impossible to like everyone. If you find yourself in charge of a person you don’t like, it’s tempting to want to treat him/her differently because of your personal feelings. But HR will quickly tell you that’s a big no-no. And if it’s a high-performer we’re talking about, then you’re really going to have to suck it up. Are you wondering how to work with people you don’t like?
The good news is managing someone you don’t like can be done, and done well. Here’s how:
Working With Someone You Hate
Sure, your days might be a bit easier if you like everyone on your team, but would your job get that much easier? Probably not, so stop dwelling on the fact that you don’t like this one person.
Look at the situation in a slightly different way: your dislike of that worker can actually make your management duties a bit easier. After all, it’s really hard to deliver criticism or bad news to someone you’re really fond of, isn’t it? Not liking someone might actually open you up for more clear, direct communication with them. And remember, you just have to get along at the office during work hours. Friendship is not required.
Take some time to think about your feelings toward this employee.
Objectively, what is it that you don’t like? If it’s the incomplete and poorly done work that’s being done, then you have an altogether different problem on your hands and you’ll need to manage it. But if it’s something personal about the employee that doesn’t impact the quality of work — personality, appearance, demeanor, lifestyle choices, etc — then that’s your issue and you need to look within to fix it.
That’s good news, though — you can control your reaction to all of those things.
Letting Go of Biases
Any parent of a toddler will tell you if you focus on the negative things you DON’T want them to do, that’s exactly what they’ll want to do. The same thing can apply to this situation.
Let go of what you don’t like, and focus on what this person does well. That might be creating great PowerPoint presentations, deftly handling angry customers, or taking helpful notes at your meetings. Make a concerted effort to focus on the positives when your mind starts to drift to how annoyed you are.
We all have preconceived feelings about different groups. Whether it’s a fairly benign idea like “all people who wear chunky glasses are trying to be cool,” or something much more extreme, be very honest with yourself.
When giving out performance reviews, providing feedback, or considering raises and promotions, check yourself — and keep your personal biases out of the equation. It’s not fair to your employees or your company, and it can open you up to all sorts of legal issues.
If you don’t think you can be fair or impartial, you need to have a conversation with HR.
Our natural tendency is to stay away from someone we don’t like, but in your professional life, that’s likely to make you pretty lonely after a while. Instead, make an effort to get to know this person better — go out for coffee or lunch, work on projects together, and try to see the best in what he/she has to offer. Especially if this is a valued and high-performing employee because the bottom line trumps your personal annoyances.
Most professionals never experience a time in which they work with ONLY people they like. So prepare yourself to deal with employees you dislike. You’ll be a better manager for it.