Posted by: G. Lane Cavalier | May 23, 2008

Answers: Best Answer in Careers and Employment

Question:

How to manage someone you don’t like?
I am a first time manager and I have one direct report.
She’s older than me and very rough around the edges. The position she is in is the kind that can lead to several other lucrative positions in the company, but frankly her dress and personality are not professional enough to make her stand out and be promotable.
She meets dress code (business casual) she just isn’t refined. (e.g., wears a frumpy sweater instead of a crisp jacket or blazer with slacks).
And her personality is very forward. She tends to speak first and think later.
She’s only been working for me for 6 months.
How do I use this opportunity to show her how to be more professional and how doing so can really give her a leg up in the company?
Does anyone know of any good books or tools I can read/use as well?
6 days ago

Additional Details
6 days ago

I’ve spoken to her about her dress when we were about to meet some clients. She dressed up for that occasion and looked very sharp. But doesn’t seem to put as much effort into it everyday.
I don’t want to offend her.
(Many of the office workers dress ‘just barely’ within the dress code, but these are usually temps or clerical workers. She’s dressing for the job she has, not the job she could have)

My ANSWER:

Since you say you are a first time manager, I would stress that you first make sure you aren’t transferring your goals and objectives to her motives.

Have you asked her or talked to her about what she wants to do next in her career or if she even wants to be promoted?

When I was a young manager, it amazed me that not everyone was looking to move up the corporate ladder. I think a first move is to understand her motives.

Once you, as her manager, understand what her goals are, it will be much easier to start the process of making suggestions as to how she can achieve those goals. It will also be easier to make suggestions to her on what “Your expectations” of her are.

I received the advice early in my career that as a manager the first priority in getting people to align with your program is to “listen” and “understand” what your employees goals are.

PS – You have already made the most important decision a young manager can make, that is to seek help and counsel. I would recommend you also make sure you find a mentor in your company or outside that you can have one on one conversations with on a regular basis.

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