Dealing With A (Good) Employee You Don’t Like - Proteus Leadership
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Dealing With A (Good) Employee You Don’t Like

Have you ever had an employee who did their job well, yet still managed to drive you mad? If you have, then you’ll know how rapidly frustration can snowball.

Mannerisms, interests, social opinions, eating habits. There are an unlimited number of traits a person can have which cause them to get on your nerves.

As trivial as an annoying employee can seem, business can suffer as a result.
Unchecked personality clashes can gain momentum until the damage done to working relationships is unrecoverable. If things reach this point then productivity and employee satisfaction will be affected.

Luckily there are some simple changes you can make which will help ease the frustration of working with an employee you don’t like on a personal level.

Remember, business is business.

Tips to handling a frustrating employee

No business can afford to give up top talent just because of some personality issues, and small businesses need to be especially careful about letting their personal feelings get in the way of their decision making. But what can you do to continue to work with that employee and feel confident about them being there?

Create performance measurements/metrics

An employee you don’t like is only valuable when they remain valuable. Create performance metrics that can be used to continue to measure their production over time. This gives you something objective to look at when you want to reaffirm your faith in the employee’s production, challenge the employee to continue to be productive and ensure that you are protected from future subjective decisions.

Find the silver lining

Find out what it is about the employee that bothers you so much. Then see if there is a way that you can turn that into an advantage. Do they typically make terrible jokes? Do they keep talking even when you’re trying to focus on work?

Do they simply have a terrible smell or grating habits? See if there is something about their persona and personality that you can imagine as a good thing. If they always make some bad jokes, make some bad jokes with them. If they keep talking, see if they want to stand in for you at some client meetings, or deal with customers while you’re focusing on other things. Sometimes there is a silver lining in there that can actually make working with them more fun for you. You just have to find it and reframe it in your mind.

Professionally talk to them about it with praise

In some cases, you may be able to talk to them about it. For example, if they are the type of employee that simply will not stop talking even while you’re trying to do your work, then technically they are hurting your work. You can sit them down in the office, praise them a great deal so they know how much you value their work and then mention that you’ve noticed they occasionally talk to you while you’re focusing and you’re under a lot of pressure. Chances are they’ll understand, provided you share your thoughts with significant professionalism, a great deal of praise and unbiased examples.

Change their role

A good employee is a good employee, and a good employee is one that could be used in another area in the company. For example, perhaps you hire someone that is endlessly negative to be your assistant. They do an outstanding job, but the negativity is too much for you to handle. Perhaps they would be better in an office manager role, providing you with assistance when you need it but also helping the rest of the company in the process
(and providing you with a bit of a break as well).

Disconnecting from employees can help you focus on management

The reality is that there is some benefit to disliking an employee. Liking an employee can result in the introduction of biases, treating your employees like they’re your friends and sometimes even creating lax work environments. When you don’t 100% love an employee, you can focus on managing them and that is what you are looking for anyway, an employee you can manage that will produce for your business.

By Saxon Marsden-Huggins
Published with permission from the International Institute of Directors and Managers (IIDM) –


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