I realize that I’m flying in the face of conventional management wisdom by suggesting that it doesn’t matter if your team likes you. But, the way I see it, a clash of personalities doesn’t mean that a team and its leader can’t work together. Some simple lessons can help you smooth over your differences.
- Get all of the issues out on the table. Ask a member of HR to be present, and invite team members to plainly state what the problems are so that everything is out in the open. If you can’t clearly resolve the issues, try to find a middle ground where you can agree to disagree.
- You’re the boss. You don’t have to be the team’s best friend in order to manage it and ensure that the work gets done. This is not to suggest that you can’t be friends, or that you should completely detach your emotions, but the work comes first. That’s why you collect a check. There’s a great Builder.com article that explores this in detail: "Manager-employee conflict: What do you do?"
- Watch out for sarcasm in your voice. If you have a propensity to make sarcastic comments (like I do), this can be particularly dangerous. It’s unprofessional, and it can turn a legitimate disagreement into a verbal sparring match.
- The best cure for employee disgruntlement is prevention. Be careful not to provoke a sensitive situation.
- Make sure that employees’ job expectations are well defined. Apart from reducing employees’ productivity, any ambiguity about responsibility allows ill will to fester.
- Give credit where credit is due. If your team believes that you’re fair and that you recognize a job well done, then that’s one less reason for team members to scrutinize everything you say.
- Pull rank only when you have to. Otherwise, you may create a rift between you and your team, and team members will feel you can’t relate to their needs.
Effective performance reviews
How do you make sure your development team is working at its full potential? The performance evaluation is a useful tool that lets you review the job that's been done and plan for the future. Read more in the article "Built to last: Effective performance evaluations for your developers."
Ultimately, you can’t lose sleep over doing your job. Perfect harmony in a department is a fairy tale, and you’ll always have to deal with a few personality clashes. Keep a professional distance, and don’t lose sight of your responsibilities.