Tuesday, December 15, 2015
How to Manage an Unlikable Employee
A previous post focused on how to make yourself more likable at work, but what about when you manage such a person-- and he or she has no inclination to become more likable?
This is a common headache for managers, who often deal with it by ignoring it. This avoidance of the issue leads the "unlikable" employee to become even more obnoxious or more withdrawn. The workplace atmosphere becomes more unpleasant, and pretty soon people are dusting off their resumes and looking for a new job.
Clearly, ignoring the problem isn't an effective strategy, so what's a manager to do?
First, start by observing the person's behavior so that you can grasp what he or she is specifically doing that others find off-putting. Maybe the employee is so shy she can't make eye contact in a meeting, or won't contribute any ideas in a brain-storming session. Or, perhaps the worker is always interrupting others, or belittles those who stress about deadlines.
Once you've got some specifics, then:
1. Meet with the employee privately. It's important that you clear some time to speak face-to-face with a worker, and avoid any distractions. This will lead to a better coaching session where the employee can see your commitment to his development.
2. Be concise. Don't ramble on about how the employee's behavior isn't appreciated by others and is causing problems. Instead, offer something like, "When Mary asked your opinion in the meeting, you mumbled something and kept your eyes on the table."
3. Spell it out. "I need you to be more collaborative," is pretty vague and may make the worker even more withdrawn or selfish. Offer some ideas: "The next time you don't have anything to say, look at Mary and say you'd like to think about it and get back to her," or "I want you to let someone finish a sentence without interrupting and then summarize what the person said before answering."
Often, employees aren't aware of how poor behavior can affect their career. Point out that promotions and big projects aren't given to those who don't communicate well or are not collaborative.
If an employee sees your coaching as a career development opportunity, then he or she will be more open to working on the issues.
Finally, make sure that you continue to monitor the behavior and follow-up with what the employee needs to improve -- and when you see things headed in the right direction.