Keeping it Professional: How to Deal with Employees Who Don’t Care for Each Other

The pretty picture of a synergistic staff that always gets along, hangs out together after work and creates major profits for the company with smiles on every face isn’t always the truth. Not all people get along like that and, unfortunately, friction can really bring down the morale and productivity of your office.

Sometimes people just don’t get along. Most of the time, it’s due to clashes in personalities. Unfortunately, this can wreak havoc on the other members of your team if it’s not nipped in the bud. It’s not always that easy for managers, though. Working through a situation such as this requires an objective look at what’s going on and a plan to make it work in everyone’s favor.

So what do you do when you have two or more employees who legitimately don’t get along? Here’s where to start.

  1. Resist the urge to listen to the gossip you’re probably going to hear before you are actually made aware of the situation. Chances are the rivalry is going to start and be well underway before one of the involved employees (or another member of your staff) let’s you know that things aren’t quite working. You need to be objective, which means going to the source(s).
  2. Listen to both sides. Call each employee into your office separately to explain both sides of the story; then have them both together so that you can be a mediator while they get their frustrations out.
  3. Find the root of the issue. Is it work-related or is it more personal? If it’s work-related, you can definitely help. If one employee feels the other is stealing their thunder, so to speak, you can help to dissolve the issue by reassigning tasks. Once you get down to what the real issue is, it’s easier to find a solution that will bolster productivity instead of drain it.
  4. Bring out the handbook. While you should know the handbook inside and out, let’s face it, it’s written down for a reason. Check out the “conflict resolution” section if it has one. This will allow you to come up with a solution that follows company policy.
  5. Document the incident. Nobody likes being written up, and this doesn’t have to be a disciplinary action; however, you NEED to document cases of conflict, including actions taken to discourage the behavior.
  6. Contact HR. HR managers and staff are there for this type of instance (among many, many others). If you can’t figure out a solution, HR is there to help you find the right answer to this serious problem.
  7. Make the decision whether or not these two employees should work together. Unfortunately, this could mean one has to go if you have a small company. In most cases though, reorganizing your teams or schedules can allow each employee to work without having to come in direct contact with each other.
  8. Be the leader/lead by example. Treat both employees (and your entire staff) with honesty and respect. This helps build morale among all team members, including the two that aren’t getting along. Open the door for open communication and see problems solved faster.

Nobody said management was easy and, in the case of feuding team members, it can be one of the most difficult jobs out there. How you handle these kinds of scenarios will either boost or destroy company morale.

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