What do you do when you have to supervise someone you can’t stand? We’ve all been there. You hire a new employee, thinking that they will be perfect for the position only to find out that you really can’t stand them. They perform their job well; they might even be perfect for the position, but something about them just grates on your nerves. It might be as simple as finding their communication style offensive. So what happens when you find yourself with a direct report that you cannot stand? Many managers would be tempted to find a way to terminate them.
Termination is an extreme solution for what might not be an extreme problem. Before you terminate an employee simply for personal differences ask yourself the following questions:
Has the employee performed their duties in such a way that warrants termination?
Is the employee “pushing your buttons” on purpose?
Have you sought out the opinion of your peers?
Is the employee’s actions or communication upsetting to you because it is offensive or simply dredging up feelings from your past?
If we are honest with ourselves, there are often experiences in our past that an annoying employee simply brings to the surface. Maybe you had an abrasive supervisor who the employee reminds you of. Maybe you had a bad experience with a co-worker. For that matter the employee might even remind you of your mother!
So what can be done if we find ourselves in this position?
Check Yourself – Make sure that this is just not your own personal prejudices. Be honest with yourself and make sure you are not blowing things out of proportion. Often the solution to interpersonal conflict lies within us.
Check The Employee – Discuss expectations with the employee. It is a mistake to assume that an employee knows that their actions or communication are abrasive to you; especially if their actions are not universally abrasive. If we do not set clear expectations with employees, then we have no one to blame but ourselves for their actions.
Manage Around The Employee – There may be ways that direct contact with employees can be minimized. Set controlled communication channels such as written reports or emails rather than in person meetings. Set up pre-determined communication times and channels that will keep you from direct contact on a daily basis.
Reorganize – Have you ever considered that you may not be the best person to manage the employee in question? Maybe you can move the employee to another supervisor.
Grow Up – While it may sound harsh, sometimes we simply have to suck it up and be a professional. We will not always like everyone we work with. In fact some of the greatest teams in history (both business and sports teams alike) have been full of people who didn’t particularly care for each other. To quote a friend of mine, “Put on your big boy/big girl pants and get to work!”