Hate your co-worker or employee? Congratulations! You have completed the first step in making things work. Acknowledging you have a problem, after all, is the first step.
Ironically, teams where everyone likes each other are typically weak teams. People (that includes you) have a tendency to like people who are like them. We revel in similarities. Grew up in the same town as me? You’re awesome! Went to the same college? Hot diggity dog! Enjoy the same TV show as me? You’re practically my twin – gosh you are amazing! With all those similarities, a team of copy-cats will have tunnel vision and won’t have complementary skills. Great teams don’t like each other nearly as much as they respect each other. There is greatness in differences.
Abraham Lincoln was famous for building a political cabinet of personal enemies. In a country that was polarized by a horrific civil war, Lincoln’s genius was to assemble a cabinet of people who were his sworn enemies. Members of his cabinet may not have liked him (or vice versa) but it served what the country (client) needed. He built a government where every American, regardless if they were from the Union or the Confederacy,had at least one person in the government who they liked (or at least felt represented their best interests).
Your company has a mix of clients with different needs and demands of their own. Your company has a mix of things to do, which requires special talents. Your company needs diversity, but along with that may come personal conflict (just ask Abe). Here is how you manage the people you hate:
1. Stop Trying To Like Them – A big fallacy of managers is to believe they need to like the person they are managing. That is not the case at all. The manager just needs to respect what the employee does. And when I say “respect,” I mean to see genuine value in a talent or ability of that employee. Stop trying to find things to like about the employee that you hate, find something to respect.
2. Find The Bigger Enemy – My consulting group was engaged to help grow a business run by two sisters. The problem was finger pointing. Each sister blamed their struggles on the other, and they hated each other. That was until they found out their father was diagnosed with cancer. Immediately they had any enemy (the cancer) much greater than their hatred for each other. Instantly they start to work together amazingly well. Seek to find a common enemy (perhaps a competitor) that you and the employee you hate can target together. A common enemy makes the best of friends.
3. Distance Makes The Heart Grow Fonder – Short, temporary bursts of disgust trumps a continual stream. If you just can’t get over the fact that you can’t stand the employee you manage, put distance between you. Put them in a different part of the office, or a different office altogether. Of course, you can fire them too… but we are working under the understanding that you have an employee that is great at their work, you just can’t stand them.
4. Hate Your Hate, Because It Hates You – The greater the hate you have for your colleague the greater the burden is for you to carry the weight. Hating them doesn’t hurt them, it hurts you in the form of stress. The fix? Forgiveness. Forgiving your sworn enemy does not make what they did alright, but it does release the stress for you. How do you forgive? Recognize that they are a result of everything they have experienced in their life, just like you and me. If you experienced every single thing they did, in the exact same way and at the exact same time they did, you would be the same as them. They are just human after all (like you and me). Then simply say the words out loud, ideally to them. And if you can’t forgive them face to face, go look at a mirror and say out loud that you forgive them. Repeat it over and over until you feel you forgive them. When you feel forgiveness, the burden you carry will evaporate and you will be able to manage them again.
5. What’s Your Problem? – The problem with disliking or hating others always boils down to your thoughts. Challenge yourself to explore what you don’t like about yourself that needs to be fixed. When you seek out to understand what you don’t like about the person you hate, you in fact discover more about yourself. Often, when we dislike someone, it is because we see a behavior in them that also exists in us. Conversely, if that nasty, “hate worthy” behavior exists in them, and not in you, you will feel sorry for them but not hate them. Hate is an indicator that something in you needs to be fix. Appreciate the hate as an indicator of an opportunity to fix something in you. And when you do fix you, you will be able to manage them better.
If Abraham Lincoln was able to manage a cabinet full of enemies and put a struggling country back onto the track to greatness, I think you just might be able to manage those employees you don’t like (but respect) and put your company back onto the path to success.