Okay, maybe 'hate' is too strong a word, and there is little reason in the workplace to hate a colleague or an employee. But there are situations where we genuinely dislike certain colleagues, for their conduct or habits, or generally for reasons difficult to define or admit, even to our own selves.
Employers and management often face this dilemma – what should they do with a person whose traits they dislike, but whose work is needed? That kind is encountered often nowadays in modern workplaces. With all the opening up and bonhomie happening now, office protocol is becoming a distant past and the rule of the First Amendment is now stronger than ever. However, for employers the situation is too often difficult to handle – especially in cases of people whom others view as cool, but managers might be viewing as a deviant.
As the well-known adage goes – what can't be cured must be endured, and this article shows six simple, but effective steps to learn to like an employee you do not like, but need to get your work done.
- Search for positive traits. Begin with at least a single good thing about the person you don't seem to like. Maybe he has high subject-expertise in a particular area of his job, or may be he gets along fine with a particular co-worker. Maybe he always keeps his commitments, or maybe he always delivers work ahead of schedule. Without at least some good point about him, a person would not survive in a workplace. You, as a manager, need to find that good point, because it is essential for you to create cordial relationships.
- Search inside for the reasons for which you dislike the person. Sometimes what you perceive as a reason for disliking someone may stem from your own inabilities or incompetence. It is possible that a person has a habit of throwing provocative questions at awkward moments. That may be the reason you dislike him. What you need to decide is whether your perception is correct in the first place. Categorize the kinds of questions he asks – it might turn out that answering those questions may save the business in the long run.
- Once you find a positive thing about the employee you don't like, concentrate on it until you start to accept his positive trait as a point that makes him worthy and valuable. It might take a few days or a week, but the hate part should start receding.
- Go out of your way and interact with the person positively. If possible, compliment him on job-related stuff that he is good at and tell him why that work is important to the company.
- Get to know the person. If necessary, take a little time off – have a coffee break together and try to understand him.
- After you have come to accept at least one good characteristic of your previous target of hate, work on finding other good points. Once you find another then start focusing on that.
- Increase interaction. During weekly meetings make it a point to ask for his opinion and listen patiently to what he has to say. Do not reject his opinion readily, but consider carefully if there is anything good in it.
Let's face it, there are many reasons why managers might nurse bias against a person, conduct, culture, gender, race, background – everything enters the equation; only, as a manager, you cannot afford to show or practice your bias, for that would be illegal, and likely cause more grief. The seven-step guide here can help you to improve relationships with those who report directly to you and play fair. And unless you are perceived as a fair manager, you will never be able to get things done properly.
Nannette Rundle Carroll, The Communication Problem Solver: Simple Tools and Techniques for Busy Managers (New York: American Management Association, 2010)