How do you manage someone you don’t like?

How do you manage someone you don’t like?      

Richard Feloni wisely states ‘Don’t let personalities influence the way you manage’.

So goes the saying – ‘Like attract like’. It is easy for a manager to build rapport, feel comfortable with and ‘get along’ with employees of similar personality. Without conscious thought, friendships develop and start to influence the way a manager interacts with employees and then slowly creeps into influencing decision making. Also without conscious thought, friendships with other employees don’t develop and a palpable ‘gap’ in the workplace relationship becomes apparent.

It’s easy to communicate with an employee with whom you have a good rapport and soon there is not only more communication happening between the manager and these employees but also more positive communication happening too.

We have known for some time that allowing social pain to dictate how managers work leaves some employees feeling liked and understood by their manager, but many feeling ‘on the outer’ and misunderstood. If managers are not self-aware, the gap developing between them and employees they don’t like widens more quickly. The employee recognises that they are not part of the ‘in group’ and so starts to distance themselves from the manager and situations that would not normally stir feelings of frustration or upset are misinterpreted through the ‘friendship lens’ or lack thereof. A series of such instances and the downward spiral of negative conflict begins.

One of the golden rules for management is not to develop friendships with anyone – but instead develop professional workplace relations with everyone. In this manner no-one should be separated or labelled into the categories of ‘do like’ and ‘don’t like’.

If as a manager you already have separated employees into these two groups or you manage others who have done this, perhaps it’s time to invest in training to rebuild professional workplace boundaries and relationships. In the meantime, Feloni suggests that to manage someone you don’t like:

Accept you don’t need to be friends

Figure out why they bother you

Remain positive with them

Focus on how they benefit your team

Don’t let emotions hinder your leadership

Be upfront

Work closely with them

Observe how others handle them


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About the Author

Catherine Gillespie brings a wealth of skill to her clients. With particular expertise in teaching communication and workplace conflict resolution skills, Catherine has made a marked difference to the organisations she has worked with. She empowers teams and managers to adopt constructive styles that support harmony, productivity and progress in the workplace.