I really don’t think disliking someone is necessarily a bad thing! To me, disliking is just another emotion like liking or loving. It’s we who attach a charge to words/ phrases. Emotions in and of itself aren’t inherently good or bad but the charge (negative / positive) that we attach to them to
help us make sense of the world is also unfortunately the cause of most of our misery.
You are Vuvuzela’s manager. How do you manage someone like Vuvuzela? Someone you dislike.
Here is how.
The first step is to always look within. Answer some of these questions and most importantly be honest with yourself. What do you not like about Vuvuzela? Does Vuvuzela remind you of someone else who irritates you - maybe your mom? What about Vuvuzela gets to you- every time? Does Vuvuzela have a trait you wish you never had?
Now once you have done some introspection to decipher what the root cause of your issue with Vuvuzela is; it’s time to do something about it.
As a manager, the most important aspect of your job is to understand people like Vuvuzela and and inspire them to action.
So here are 5 things you can do as Vuvuzela’s manager:
Have coffee / lunch at least once a month with Vuvuzela: you are probably thinking- “What the hell? Why would I want to spend any more time than I have to with Vuvuzela. Why torture myself?” Well...I want you to think about this from a learning aspect. List 3 people who have pushed you and helped you grow. Now answer this question - have you liked everything about these 3 people and their ways of getting things done? Invariably- the answer is NO. We tend to learn and grow more when we are around those that challenge us and help us think creatively and differently. If you are surrounded by people just like you - you nor your team will see true success. Find out more about Vuvuzela’s interests and passion - you might be surprised!
Make a list of Vuvuzela’s strengths: Everyone has strengths.You might be totally convinced that Vuvuzela has nothing to offer in the heat of the moment. Trust me - every single one of us has real talent. List out Vuvuzela’s strengths and try to engage Vuvuzela in projects those strengths have an opportunity to shine. If you are NOT open to seeing people’s strengths - then you are in the wrong job my friend!
Get an outside opinion: Let’s say it’s time to give Vuvuzela some feedback or Vuvuzela is being considered for another opportunity within or outside of the company. It’s always a good practice to get feedback from a variety of people about Vuvuzela’s performance. Get 360 degree feedback. Getting an outside opinion helps eliminate unconscious bias!
Beware of acting on your feelings: Like I said - there is nothing wrong in disliking someone as long as you don’t act on that feeling. One way to ensure that you don’t act on it is by being objective about decisions. Let’s say you are recruiting a new team member and somehow this recruit reminds you a little bit of Vuvuzela. Having a set recruiting criteria at that point will help you eliminate bias and remain “factual”.
Join hands on a project- yes you heard me. When you end up working on a difficult project - it gives you a common goal / common problems to discuss. Also when you join hands on a difficult project - there is an implicit trust that’s formed. Vuvuzela is going to feel more engaged and you will also be vested in Vuvuzela’s success - rather than looking for problems with Vuvuzela.
In an HRB article Dattner says “Cultivating a diplomatic poker face is important. You need to be able to come across as professional and positive,” - I don’t know if I agree with that advice. I truly believe that we are all smart enough to know when our manager is “faking it” or “trying to be professional and positive”. Faking it will only make you temporarily feel like you dealt with the situation - while all you did was push it under the rug. Your employees only lose trust in you when you are not being authentic.
Great leaders are not afraid to do some inner work, not afraid to be honest with themselves about their thoughts/emotions and certainly not afraid to be open.
Remember, You CAN’T change people - but you can change your perception of them!
Now go and schedule that coffee date with Vuvuzela - I know you can do this! ;)
Please do share any other tips you may be aware of or have used in managing people you don't quite like.