When Your Employee Drive You Crazy

Now and then, the employees you manage drive you crazy. In most cases the feeling is fleeting.

But not always. We’re all different, and at times those differences can be a bit too much to bear. What can you do when someone on your team regularly gives you a case of the grouchies?

First Things First: Take a Step Back

What is your job as a manager? It’s a simple question but one you’ll need to keep front and center as you find yourself becoming frustrated with your employee. Frustration has a way of causing us to think less than rationally and act less than fairly, and you can’t afford that. You have a job to do, regardless of how you feel about a particular employee. Your job is to get work done through the individual. Your job is to coach, counsel, and mentor your employees. Your job is to develop their gifts for the good of the organization. You can’t do all that if you’re focused on your negative feelings instead of your responsibility as a manager and leader.

Okay, So Now What?

Granted, putting your annoyed feelings aside may be easier said than done. How do you keep yourself on track?

After you’ve reminded yourself of your duties as a manager (and this will have to become a habit; the first reminder probably won’t be enough if your employee is truly challenging), be prepared to continue with the cognitive therapy, because let’s face it: changing your attitude about this employee is your best chance of reducing your stress where he/she is concerned.

Here’s a few truisms to keep top of mind whenever you find yourself getting exasperated with your “problem child” employee:

  • Your employee isn’t you. No, seriously. If you’ve ever hired someone who had a similar work ethic, work style, and worldview as you, you know how great it feels and how rare it is. Mostly, your employees won’t be you, and that’s generally a good thing. Diversity teams are most productive. So ask yourself: is your employee driving you crazy because of a legitimate performance deficiency, or is he/she simply being him- or herself when you’d rather he/she act more like you?
  • Your employee isn’t paid to think like you. Yes, I know it’s popular to take the position that a good employee will behave as though he’s as invested as the boss, but come on. Unless your employee’s position comes with the pay, perks, and autonomy of your position, he/she shouldn’t be expected to act as if it does.
  • As the manager, you set the standard. On the other hand, you have every right to expect an employee to work to a reasonable standard. If your employee makes you nuts because his/her work is not to standard, well, perhaps you’ve been a little lax in enforcing said standard? It doesn’t take much laxity for some employees to get the idea that certain unacceptable behaviors are, in fact, acceptable. Before you get annoyed with an employee who’s not getting the job done, be sure you’ve clearly communicated your expectations about how it should be done.
  • Realize you don’t have to like an employee to work well with him or her. You may truly dislike your employee’s personality, but if he/she has the traits for the job; interacts with you, other leaders, and his/her peers respectfully; and gets work completed to your satisfaction, that’s about all you can ask for. Let the rest go. 

We spend a lot of time at work, and it’s only natural to want to like everyone there. That’s probably not realistic, though. It’s also not realistic (or efficient or particularly good leadership) to fire everyone who makes you a little crazy, even if you have the authority to do so. Instead, figuring out how to manage your time with him or her is in everyone’s best interest.


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Freelance Writer, Editor, and HR Consultant in Philly. You can find more of Crystal's work at: www.crystalspraggins.blogspot.com
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