As CEO or manager, you have a job to do. Get results.What should you do when an employee hates your guts?
The best way to achieve results is to ensure you have the right people doing the right things because they want to - not because they have to.
Despite doing all the right things, problems will develop. People are complex. Human beings have feelings. Not everyone is going to get along with nor like you.
I have had bosses I disliked. Hate is a strong word, but if I would have been exposed to two in particular for much longer, hatred would have resulted. What did I do? In two situations, I began engaging the next person up in the chain of command. I started asking lots of questions that eventually gave them a clue things were badly wrong and that I was about to leave.
During the times I worked for a boss I intensely disliked, I felt the lifeblood sucked out of me. I became angry and disengaged.
Yet, I was fortunate. I had unique skills that enabled me to leave for other opportunities. Some employees stay because they have little or no choice in terms of comparable employment. Therefore they stay and tolerate it until they can no longer stand it.
Do not mislead yourself. An employee that hates your guts can smile at you and fake it for a while. Chances are the employee that hates your guts is avoiding you.
And chances are once bad feelings are developed, it is not going to get better. Today may be your best day.
If you are "old school", you might say, "Who cares... They can get out..." If an employee really does dislike you - perhaps even hates you, you owe it to yourself, the rest of your team, and the employee that may dislike you to get to the bottom of it.
The costs of having an employee on your team who really dislikes you or even hates you is potentially incredible. Nancy Mann Jackson (Entrepreneur.com) wrote:
“Quite simply, if employees like and respect you, they’re more invested in your company and interested in its success. They’re willing to work harder and give more. But if they don’t care about you, they don’t care about your company.”
If you suspect an employee hates your guts, you must take action. Your customers, other employees and the employee that dislikes you all deserve better.
What can you do?
- Get real about your hopes and expectations. Are you hoping to be a friend to your employees? Facebook buddies? You are their manager - not their friend. Trying to mix the two at work is impossible to do well. While everyone wants to be liked, you have a job to do - get results - preferably through the efforts of others. While a fundamental human need is to be liked, being a manager is not a popularity contest. Just because an employee does not speak with you or include you does not mean they hate you.
- Do not interpret debate and pushback as dislike/hatred. You need the best ideas to come forth and ownership of ideas to create energy. You also need bad news early so that you can make improvements. Just because an employee is debating / pushing back on issues does not mean they dislike you.
- Be Accountable. It is not necessarily them. It is likely you. You can only control you. Ask yourself, "What can I do to better connect, to give this team member what they need to succeed?" One way to ensure that you and all team members are being accountable is to go through the QBQ! Accountability Workshop, which has had a dramatic impact on people's professional and personal lives.
- Empathize. Put yourself in their shoes. The employee may be deeply concerned but unable to articulate their feelings. Would you like working for you? Are you approachable? Do you care about your employees? Are you fair? Do you provide feedback and praise?
- Do not over-react.
- Question your assumptions. Why do you believe the employee dislikes or hates you? Review your assumptions. Carefully. There could be other things going on in their life that have nothing to do with you.
- Try not to take it personally.
- Have a heart-to-heart with the employee. Share your concerns. Let them know your concerns without making the employee uncomfortable and allow them to feel comfortable opening up.
- Respect cultural differences. Different cultures have different expectations regarding what they want out of work.
- Team build. Break down barriers by working through some activities to improve the dysfunctions.
- Identify personality differences. Complete a valid Personality Assessment to identify your differences. What are you doing and/or saying that may be "rubbing them" the wrong way? Use the assessment to identify whether there are conflicting personality traits and what can be done to resolve the conflict.
- Are you trying too hard? Trying too hard can make your employee dislike you even more.
Like all good and not-so-good life experiences, this too shall pass. Keep your eyes wide open and learn from it.
Also, remember that the best solutions usually come from someone who is looking at the situation from the outside. Hiring a talent management consultant, like the Rainmaker Group, will give you unbiased direction on how to deal with an employee who hates your guts.