07 May 2014

Do you have to like your staff?

While it helps to like your staff, sometimes you just can't help being irritated by a particular person. Here are some ways to manage your frustration.

The short answer is no, although it helps. Remember, you hired this person for their skills and ability to do the job – that doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with them.  

Some would even argue that it’s better not to be good friends with the people you manage, as it means you can be more objective when evaluating their performance. However, if you really dislike an employee, you could run the risk of treating him or her unfairly – whether consciously or not.

If the person is rubbing everyone up the wrong way or is acting unprofessionally, you need to step in and confront their behaviour. However, it may be that it’s just an issue for you alone. In this case,

So how can you make sure your aversion to them doesn’t affect your working relationship?

  1. Consider why you don’t get on with them – and be honest with yourself. What is it about him/her that drives you mad? It could be a particular mannerism, perhaps they remind you of someone you’ve had issues with in the past or perhaps it’s because they’re confrontational or poor communicators. Once you’ve identified the reason, you may be able to put things into perspective and find ways to manage them or deal with their personality better - or to change your own behaviour or way of thinking.
  2. Focus on the positives. While you could just accept that you just don’t get on, and try to minimise the time you spend together, we suggest focusing on the positives. Focusing on the negatives could lead to a vicious circle, where you become more irritated by them and in turn notice whatever irritates you even more. Don’t perpetuate the cycle; no one is perfect and there may be something you do that drives them mad too. So instead, focus on what your employee is particularly good at and how it benefits your business.  
  3. Be fair. As their employer, you need to be impartial and treat everyone on an equal footing, so it’s important not to show your disapproval.  
  4. See how others work with them. You may be able to pick up better ways to interact with them – and with the rest of your team.
  5. Be the role model. Make sure your behaviour or communication isn’t fuelling the problem. If you’re fed up with someone moaning all the time, make sure you’re not doing the same – and take steps to address their problems. As their manager, you set the atmosphere and the behaviour that’s expected.