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5 Tips for Managing People You Can’t Stand


Here’s one thing to know for certain, when you become a manager: sooner or later, you’re going to have manage someone you don’t like, or at least, disagree with frequently. This would be true even if you got to hand-pick every single member of your team. The goal, then, is to learn how to manage all your reports — even the ones that set your teeth on edge — in a way that maximizes productivity and is fair to all involved.


(Photo Credit: DanDeChiaro/Flickr)

“The reality is that you’re going to be required to manage lots of people you don’t like,” writes Anita Bruzzese at The Fast Track, Intuit’s blog. “But it’s your job to manage people and their skills, and that means finding a way to bring out the best in them to get the job done — and not lose your last shred of sanity.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Bruzzese culls a bunch of tips from Rick Brinkman and Rick Kirschner’s book Dealing With People You Can’t Stand, including:

1. Don’t ignore snipers.

The tendency is to reward good behavior and ignore the bad, but the folks who don’t like you can do a lot of damage to your ability to lead if you let them go about their business, unimpeded. Don’t let snide comments go unaddressed. Ask them politely and frankly to tell you what they really mean, and you won’t have to worry about them sowing the seeds of discontent behind your back.

2. Cheer up Chicken Little.

Every office has at least one person who thinks the sky is falling. Don’t dismiss their concerns, and don’t be afraid to offer praise when praise is due. Use the fearful folks to help sound out new ideas and find the faults in them, before you release them to a wider audience.

3. Reinforce the behavior you want to see.

When people make a change toward doing things the way you’d like them to do them, be sure to acknowledge it.

4. Be specific.

It’s useless to tell someone that you wish they’d stop being negative all the time, for example. Be precise about the behavior that needs changing, and you’ll get better results and better morale.

5. Use “I” language.

You know the old line: “there are three sides to the story — yours, mine, and the truth.” Recognize that your perspective is always necessarily limited by your experience. Framing things as a truth, rather than the truth, will help people feel less attacked and more willing to communicate.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever had a report — or a manager — you didn’t like? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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