Friendly-Fire: How to Manage Subordinates You Don’t Get Along With

Dwight Mihalicz,

Mihalicz_Friendly Fire

Regardless of the sector, industry, or organization size, people are in the most vital component for driving the success of the business. Of all of these, the manager – subordinate relationship is the most important. When we think about these relationships that exist within organizations, it’s important to focus on mutual understanding. Does an employee understand her relationship with a peer? Does a subordinate understand his relationship with a manager? As a manager, part of setting context and boundaries involves ensuring trusted relationships exist, making it possible for all people to work together to get the job done, peer to peer, and subordinate back to the manager. So what do we do when these trusted relationships don’t exist? What can we learn about managing subordinates that we don’t get along with?

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    1. Accept That You Don’t Need To Be Best Friends

The relationship you develop with your subordinate team needs to be well defined, but you don’t have to be buddies. It isn’t necessary that managers and their subordinates meet up for dinner or a friendly game of poker on a Saturday night! Nevertheless, while you don’t have to be friends, it is essential to establish a friendly rapport. But what happens if you must develop a relationship with someone you simply don’t like? Whatever the reasoning behind it, when you clash with an individual to the point where you are uncomfortable, working in harmony can be a challenge. No friendship required – but you do need to build a mutually supportive relationship.

    1. Avoid The Trap Of Friendship Bias

Humans naturally take the path of least resistance, and coincidentally, there is a tendency for managers to seek out feedback and delegate mainly to those they get along with. After all, the people you enjoy the most are typically like-minded and generally have the same opinions. The problem is, by limiting feedback to only those comfortable relationships, you run the risk of restricting your perspective. You’re also selling yourself short by not challenging yourself to embrace the opinions of those opposed to you. Delegating projects to only those you “like” is a form of friendship bias and is not conducive to a successful business environment. While the feedback you receive from your “regular” group is generally positive and it makes you feel good, you run the risk of marginalizing someone who could be adding tremendous value to the pursuit of organizational objectives.

    1. Step Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

The best advice when confronted with awkward encounters is to cultivate those relationships and work hard at seeking feedback from everyone, not only those that give you the warm, fuzzy feeling you’ve grown to like. People who sit outside of your comfort zone tend to have a unique, and often valuable perspective that forces you to take into account factors you may have overlooked.

The bottom line is that an open mind and cognitive awareness are essential. You need to assess the feelings and biases that you encounter on a daily basis and strive to meet everyone’s needs. If you’re hesitant to open your mind to the opinion of someone outside of your comfort zone, you’re unable to effectively understand what is happening within your organization. It is crucial to realize and understand that every opinion matters, and every situation – whether positive or negative, needs to be addressed properly.

Dwight Mihalicz

Dwight Mihalicz has over 40 years’ experience helping local, national, and international organizations achieve greater productivity, efficiency, and performance.
Copyright © 2018 - Dwight Mihalicz -Sage Effective Managers