How do I manage someone I don’t like?

Friday, September 13th, 2013 By Jack Nevison

We've all been there. Sometimes, a coworker just rubs you the wrong way. You can't communicate, and you certainly can't work together. If you're lucky, the office is big enough so you two don't have to interact.

It's not so simple for a project manager. If you're in charge of a small team, you have to work with all its members, even if you don't like some of them.

How? Writing for the Harvard Business Review, contributor Amy Gallo has some suggestions.

She quotes Robert Sutton, a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University, who says that "there's a list of things that make you like people and there's a list of things that make a group effective, and there are very different things on those lists."

First, Sutton argues that project managers should not assume that disliking someone is a bad thing. In fact, it may offer some benefits.

"From a performance standpoint, liking the people you manage too much is a bigger problem than liking them too little," Sutton said.

He added that people who like you and are nice to you may have trouble breaking bad news. This might leave you in a better mood, but it will make you far less capable of responding in a timely fashion to problems that are affecting the project.

"You need people who have different points of view and aren't afraid to argue," Sutton added.

If you don't think you're prepared to manage people whom you dislike, New Leaf can help with our program, "Leading Project Teams: The Human Side of Performance." In addition, our QPM series of estimating games lets you earn convenient and affordable PDU credits for your PMP recertification requirements.

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