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How to Manage Someone Who Rubs You the Wrong Way

You can't love everyone who works for you. Here Inc. columnists share how to manage talented people who you find irritating.

When I started my first company, I hired people I knew and loved.  I thought, Why wouldn't I want to work with my friends all day?

In many cases that worked out fine. Then my company began to grow beyond my circle of friends. The talents required for success became a bigger priority than the camaraderie.

I was usually able to find people who fit the culture and the job description and whom I also enjoyed spending time with. But every once in a while the person I needed to hire just wasn't my cup of tea. And while we shared mutual respect, spending time with this person became a chore, as did the experience of managing him or her.

It's not that uncommon in larger companies to have employees who do a great job but their personality just rubs you the wrong way.  People are people and not everyone can be totally dispassionate. But a great manager can put aside their personal feelings and look objectively. I have mostly found that those people who make me uncomfortable are often my greatest teachers.

When managing someone I dislike I investigate my feelings to figure out what are the specific issues at play. I then determine where I can be responsible for my own experience. I will explore my relationship with that person and look not just for the source of conflict but also the common ground. We may not become best friends, but we can usually get to a place of trust and respect that allows us to work toward the common goal of success for the company.

Here are additional insights from my Inc. colleagues.

1. Figure out the "Why?"

If you find yourself managing someone you dislike, ask yourself why you feel this way. It may be that the employee is subtly disrespectful or disruptive. You've picked up on this subconsciously and that's why he or she rubs you the wrong way. On the other hand, your soul-searching may reveal that the employee reminds you of an annoying relative, or that you're uncomfortable managing someone of that age. In that case, awareness will make it easier for you to confront and deal with those irrational feelings before they get in your way as a leader, or cause you to lose a valuable team memberMinda Zetlin  - Start Me Up


2.
Take a look in the mirror.

The opportunity to mange someone who pushes your buttons could be a blessing in disguise.  You may resist this tidbit of reality, but when someone in your life irritates you it's often because they are mirroring a quality that lies within you.  If you view your employee as an arrogant know-it-all, for instance, think about yourself in that image. Is there arrogance that comes out at times? Or do you fear being seen as arrogant? When your employee rubs you the wrong way do some deep thinking about the behavior that irks you and look for something similar within yourself. What a fabulous opportunity for self-growth! Marla Tabaka--The Successful Soloist


3. Create some space.

The more people you manage, the greater your chances are that someone on your team is going to rub you the wrong way. But if they're talented and good at what they do, then you'll have to do whatever it takes to work it out. This might mean having the person report to someone besides you, helping to insulate you from the personality you so dislike, or even just assigning them an office or workspace that is physically as far from your own as possible--on the other side of the building, on a different floor, or across town. Or, you could simply accept the reality of the situation, and learn to love those personality quirks that bug you so much. They may just be what makes that person so effective on the job. Peter Economy--The Management Guy

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Last updated: May 29, 2014

KEVIN DAUM | Columnist

An Inc. 500 entrepreneur with a more than $1 billion sales and marketing track record, Kevin Daum is the best-selling author of Video Marketing for Dummies and the executive producer of Amilya! on 77WABC New York. Sign up here and never miss out on Kevin's thoughts and humor.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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