Question: I Have Two Employees Who do not Like Each Other.
It is affecting the morale of the other employees who are tired of the conflict. The two employees come to me one at a time “telling” on the other one. It is taking up so much of my time dealing with these two employees and, frankly, I have had it. What can I do?
Signed “Frustrated in Florida”
Answer: Dear Frustrated in Florida,
It is time to take control of the situation. While conflict in any environment is inevitable, when it goes unchecked and effects the workplace environment, it is time to deal with it. Having said that, it is always easier to resolve the disputes before they become problems. So in the future, “head trouble off at the pass” by dealing with it immediately. Now, for your current situation, I recommend the following steps.
- Bring the two employees together so you can:
- Let them know how their behavior is affecting their peers and the workplace,
- Advise them that a calm and pleasant workplace is necessary and that anything that interferes with a pleasant workplace must be addressed and resolved,
- Remind them that they are both valuable employees and that you are confident that they can resolve their differences and work together,
- Get their commitment to work out their differences so they can work together, and
- Ensure that they understand the seriousness of this problem and that while they do not have to like each other, you expect them to learn to work together.
- Review the options with the employees:
- You can work this out on your own.
- I will meet with you to address the issues.
- We can bring in a mediator to work with you to resolve the issues.
- You can refuse to work on these issues, in which case, I will accept your resignation.
- Ascertain whether the employees have the motivation and the communication skills to resolve their issues.
- If they do not, suggest that a third party be invited to assist them in working out those differences.
- If the employees feel they can work their problems out without the intervention of a third party, compliment them on their willingness to do so. However, enlist their understanding that you expect them to resolve these issues. In addition, establish a progress evaluation plan, so that you will know how the employees are doing in addressing and resolving the issues.
- Evaluate the appropriateness of bringing in a mediator to assist the two employees with the resolution of their disputes.
- Often, the disputants are too emotionally involved and lack the skills to problem solve the issues. The role of a mediator is to assist them in working out the issues.
Frustrated in Florida, I would also recommend that you provide training for all of your employees on communication and conflict resolution skills.
Best wishes, Mary Rau-Foster
Please Note: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not the intent of Mary Rau-Foster to render legal advice. If legal advice is required, you should seek the services of a competent lawyer.