If you’re like most leaders, you probably gravitate towards direct reports who act nice and don’t deliver bad news. But it’s often those who provoke or challenge you—the people you like less—who prompt new insights and help propel the group to success. When you dislike an employee you might—consciously or not—mismanage him, treat him unfairly, or fail to see the real benefit he can deliver.
To get the most out of someone you don’t like:
Learn how to handle your frustration. Don’t let your distaste show. Everyone wants their boss to like them, and your employee might presume that any disapproval has to do with his performance. Remain fair, impartial, and composed.
Check your bias. If you’re having trouble being fair, seek counsel from another manager who is familiar with the employee’s work. Ask whether your evaluation matches the outsider’s.
Keep an open mind. It might help to spend more time with the problem employee, perhaps by collaborating on a difficult task. Remember that perspectives change, and your favorite employee today might become your least favorite tomorrow.
Adapted from “How to Manage Someone You Don’t Like,” by Amy Gallo.