How to Lead Your Least Favorite Employee

 In Coaching, Leadership Development

Let us face it, someone on your team may be your least favorite employee. Also, there are all sorts of reasons why someone may be considered a “bad boss” by her direct reports. Think about it–if you surveyed everyone on your team, would those that do not like your leadership all have the same reason for disliking you? Probably not. It is rare that everybody has the same opinion of someone else for the same reason.

Consider, the more common reality is that you may hold responsibility for each person’s reason. For example, you may strongly dislike one of your immediate subordinates, which leads you to treat that person differently than their peers that you admire. This ultimately changes your working relationship and gives that employee more valid reasons to categorize you as a “bad boss.”

I do not suggest any manager or leader excuse any reason for being considered a “bad boss”. More importantly, I will always argue that whether you like or dislike an employee should have ZERO influence on how you lead and manage that team member. Certainly, your least favorite employee. Your opinion of that person should NEVER get in the way of how you professionally relate to that person. If it does, it is time to redirect your emotion, energy, and effort. Here is how.

How to Lead Your Least Favorite Employee5 Approaches to Work with Your Least Favorite Employee

#1. Gain a big-picture perspective of the other person.

Too often, I see managers irritated over that one quality that the one annoying team member exhibits. When you find yourself paying particular attention to the flaw that frustrates you, make a list of all the qualities that you or others have come to appreciate about that team member.

#2. Do not take it personally.

Typically, step one and two go together. If you start building a broader opinion of the other person, you will start to see that what he or she does is not at all specific to you. Unfortunately, sometimes when we dislike others, we get it in our heads that everything they do is intentionally done to get under our skin – but that is not usually the case. As the leader, it is your job to keep it professional, without taking it personally.

#3. Extend more trust.

When there’s tension between leaders and team members, typically, there are trust issues. But the secret to building a trusting workplace is to trust others before they trust you. Set an example. Again, you are the leader – it is up to you to set the bar for how you hope things will be. Even if people do not like each other, a culture of trust ensures that people respect each other. And respect goes a long way.

#4. Set aside one-on-one time.

It sounds a little strange to set aside one-on-one time with someone you do not particularly like, right? Wrong. More relationship and coaching time together could be the only thing that is needed to help the two of you establish a better connection. If you do not know all that much about one another, you are going to have an easier time focusing on the only (and less appealing) things that you do know about one another.

#5. Build an empathetic environment.

Empathy is underrated in every context, including the professional workplace. It is a developed ability that is a worthwhile asset for leaders to pursue and encourage in themselves and others. It is the capacity to understand how someone else is feeling and why she might be feeling that way. Empathetic leaders understand that being a favorite is not a prerequisite to success; and they acknowledge that understanding others is.

Pulling It All Together

Whatever you do, do not let your opinion of your least favorite employee or any team member trump your professional relationship. You are bound to lead teams and individuals that you do not particularly adore. but that does not give you a reason to earn yourself the “bad boss” title. Consequently, rise above all that use the strategies above to help you.  As CEO Clarence Francis defined, “You can buy a man’s time, and physical presence at a given place. You can even buy a measured number of skilled muscular motions per hour or day. However, you cannot buy enthusiasm, initiative, loyalty or devotion of hearts, minds, and souls. You have to earn these things.”

How to Lead Your Least Favorite EmployeeAlso, do you want more ideas on how to inspire employee engagement team? Check this out this eBook-How to Motivate-NO-Inspire People.

In addition, go here for our RealTime Learning & Training leadership and personal development website. Over 130 micro-learning and career advancement resources at your fingertips!

Finally, do you want to accelerate the results of your least favorite employee and others while becoming a servant leader? Go here for Rick’s Superstar Leadership eBook.


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