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What If an Employee Isn’t Liked by the Rest of the Team?

In an ideal world, all employees will get along harmoniously, in perfect sync, with no conflicts in personality, goals or attitude. As we all know, that is rarely if ever the case, however.

Personality differences often pose a significant challenge for business leadership. What if an employee isn’t liked by the rest of the team? A recent Harvard Business Review article provides some helpful advice for managers struggling with a team member who is on the outs with colleagues.

Here are a few suggestions for how to help the employee … and the team … interact more effectively.

Don’t Ignore

You usually will know when an employee’s behavior is problematic to others on the team. However, one of the worst things you can do is ignore the behavior. Such inaction can erode morale and the confidence the rest of the team has in your leadership abilities.

Focus on the Facts

Your observations of specific examples can be a powerful way to identify issues and address them in a clear, unbiased way. For example, you may say to an employee that she frequently interrupted colleagues during a meeting or was sighing when others spoke.

This approach allows a manager to share the impact of the actions on others, including yourself, and what your expectations are of the employee. Approaching this as an opportunity for improvement and a chance for positive improvement is the ideal tack.

These conversations usually go better when it is framed for what it is – a conversation about the employee’s overall growth. Be up front and don’t call the conversation a check in when it’s really a professional development conversation. You don’t want your employee to feel ambushed.

Employees who are disruptive to others often are unaware of the problems they are causing for the rest of the team.

Seek Input

You should always give the employee an opportunity to provide his or her perspective on the situation. Ask how they felt a situation went and what they were hoping to accomplish. Another good question to ask is, “If you were to do things differently, how would you do so?” This is not the time argue or debate the employee but to understand the thinking about the situation.

Be Firm

You cannot anticipate how your employee will react to the conversation you have. There could be accusations, defensiveness or lack of response. If the employee is angry or defensive, you may be prone to react emotionally.

However, you should stand your ground and remain firm. You can do so, while at the same time practicing active listening, acknowledging your employee’s response and being sure the other person feels heard. However, you need to reiterate the expected behavior and the impact of desired behaviors on you, the employee and the rest of the team.

Find Solutions Together

One approach is to ask the employee to help you in figuring out a course of action to take in the future. Let the employee make suggestions and offer to help privately, whether in prepping for a future meeting or assessing how an interaction goes after it’s over. The employee should know that you are committed to solving the issue and invested in his or her professional growth.

While a disliked employee can be difficult to handle, the situation can be turned around with some deliberate commitment and strategic approach.