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As a manager, you ideally want to work with employees who are pleasant and agreeable, but of course you’re going to have some you simply don’t like.
If these employees have proven their worth, then you’re going to have to adjust your management style for your sanity and your team’s overall productivity.
Here are eight ways you can establish a better working relationship with even the most annoying employee.
Accept that you don’t need to be friends with all of your employees.
Understand that there is a line between business and your personal life, and it can actually be helpful to put some emotional distance between you and the people who report to you. As Stanford University professor Robert Sutton told the Harvard Business Review, “From a performance standpoint, liking the people you manage too much is a bigger problem than liking them too little.” Some friction can even allow your team to rethink the way it functions.
Figure out why they bother you.
Do they irritate you because of how they communicate? Are they too aggressive or maybe not aggressive enough? Once you determine exactly what makes them so irritating to you, you will be able to determine how to properly manage them. It’s important to remember that you can’t change an employee’s personality, but you can change the way you deal with that personality.
Remain positive with them.
Employees want their bosses to like them. Maintain a professional, cordial relationship with even the most irritating team members. This will help maintain your focus on the task in front of you, as well as help prevent further conflict.
Focus on how they benefit your team.
If you’ve already determined that this employee is talented enough to retain, then focus on what makes them valuable rather than how annoying they can be. If their quirks have been clashing with their current role, then figure out if they can be serving you better. For example, over-achievers who get caught up on perfecting their work can probably handle more tasks.
Don’t let emotions hinder your leadership.
Do not let their irksome habits influence the way you treat them or evaluate their work. You can help your objectivity by trying to understand where they are coming from, management expert Victor Lipman writes on Forbes.
Only accept an employee’s bothersome traits to a point. Do not let your kindness cause them to push you around, says Fast Track columnist Anita Bruzzese. If this employee’s brash attitude or tendency to whine about assignments, for example, is bringing down the team, then let them know. Be specific about the problematic behaviors, and suggest some alternate ways of doing things.
Work closely with them.
While counterintuitive, studies show that working on difficult projects can build affinity among coworkers, Sutton told Harvard Business Review. If you give your problem employee the chance to prove their worth, then you may be less inclined to become annoyed with them at work, even if you still won’t be inviting them to a barbeque anytime soon.
Observe how others handle them.
Watch how others in the office deal with this employee. You may realize that you are clashing with them because of your particular style of communication. Then you can adjust accordingly.