Sometimes you have to manage people you don’t like…

I find the topic framed in a rather distasteful manner – What do we mean by “How to manage someone you don’t like?”
Managers and Leaders need to transcend the petty boundaries of like and dislike.
Think Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing (and adjourning if that fits)

As managers/leaders we cannot let our personal likes and dislikes affect our management or leadership responsibilities? Our role is to facilitate the team’s journey through  Tuckman’s stages of group development listed above, such that we are allowing team members to evolve and grow into their respective roles in the team.

Remember that individuals who form part of a team have each come into the group carrying their own mental and emotional baggage which they are expected to jettison, in favour of becoming a collective part of the team. Some do this with élan and dispatch…some need more time and nurturing. In any event,  our role as manager/leader is to ensure that we are allowing this developmental stage to flourish and progress  without letting personal likes/dislikes come in the way.

Managing/leading is all about being honest and authentic with oneself as well as with the larger team. One cannot pretend to like someone, one cannot falsify a response to appear friendly or connected…neither can one fake like for dislike?

So consider the reality, take into account the other individuals situation, feelings and possible reasons for appearing disconnected from the team, or just plain un – desirable or unfriendly. Then develop an approach to confront the behavior while providing the individual with a fair and open forum to enter into a dialogue that will ultimately lead to a resolution of the reasons behind any negative connotations associated with the Individual, yourself as manager/leader and indeed the team at large.

This is the only professional way to handle the subject of this topic (which I still feel is rather distastefully stated).


I have said before that I find this theme framed in a rather distasteful manner.
The truth is that we truly cannot function with any degree of efficiency in a team if there is an individual (or individuals) present who do not like each other. It becomes even more difficult if the Manager/Leader dislikes one or more individuals on the team.

It becomes incumbent upon the Manager/Leader to take the initiative to engage with the individual they dislike and offer a safe, penalty-free forum where the individual and the manager can get their respective grievances out in the open so they can be articulated and  resolved to the degree that both parties feel comfortable with the resolution.

The Johari window (from 1955) remains relevant even today, especially as it applies to the  situation this theme is based upon.
This tool is a great way to help people better understand their relationship with self and others.
When performing the exercise, subjects are given a list of 58 adjectives and pick five or six that they feel describe their own personality. Peers of the subject are then given the same list, and each pick five or six adjectives that describe the subject. These adjectives are then mapped onto a grid. This concept was named the Johari House with four rooms, by Charles Handy (see ‘Shamrock Organization’ – an idea he proposed)

Room 1 is the part of ourselves that we see and others see. Room 2 is the aspects that others see but we are not aware of. Room 3 is the most mysterious room in that the unconscious or subconscious part of us is seen by neither ourselves nor others. Room 4 is our private space, which we know but keep from others.

Room 1and 2 are reasonably easy to discuss and disclose as an initial part of the disclosure exercise.
Remember that as the manager you ought to be open and willing to share/disclose your own experience of Room 1 and Room 2 as it pertains to yourself.

Rooms 3 and 4 become more difficult to stay open and honest about. These are the more hidden or personal aspects of the Disclosure exercise that will demand a higher level of trust and respect for each other before this level of disclosure can be achieved.

Remember that the objective is to get all the hidden agendas out in the open so that they can be discussed, agreed to and removed from contention. This is the only way to begin the process of healing…where both parties can say “I respect your point of view and I feel that  you respect my point of view; regardless of the way our decisions flow in future and whom they apparently favour, I feel confident that they have been arrived at fairly and openly.”

In summary:

1. There can be no efficiencies in a team where there is dislike between Manager/Leader and a team member, or even between  team members with each other.

2. As the Manager/Leader it is your responsibility to create a (safe, penalty – free) forum with such individuals to allow them to share their grievances with each other and help facilitate a rapprochement that will allow them to begin to respect each other and agree to work together at the very least.

3. As the manager/leader it is incumbent upon you to ensure that you are consistent and fair in your dealings with all on the team and that you are willing to call out and confront any team behaviours that may trigger individuals’ developing feelings of withdrawal, feeling left out and/or discriminated against

I am not saying that every one has to be hugging and back-slapping each other 24×7…but I am suggesting that there ought to be (at a minimum) a healthy respect and level of trust that co-exists between team members, as well in their relationship to you, the manager/leader, and only you can embody and articulate this on behalf of the team!

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