Do you ever get involved in the relationships between workers? I don´t mean those kinds of relationships (that could be another blog); I mean when two people are simply not getting along and need to be more cooperative with each other. Do you tell them to stop acting like children and grow up? Do you stick them in a corner and say, "Work it out, kids"? Whatever you do to facilitate a sticky situation between workers it´s probably fraught with "issues." Is it up to an employer to interfere and force employees to "play nice"? It all depends, but a rocky relationship in the workplace, no matter who´s involved, can affect everyone and it´s probably a good idea to help the offending parties work things out. But how?
You can take the "I´m staying out it" approach, but you´re not likely to get long-lasting results. And sometimes a short-term solution is worse than no solution at all; people become even more frustrated. Pretty soon no one-at least the two people-is focusing on work. Sometimes when workers are sparring with one another they try to enlist support from their colleagues, which, of course, can bring your whole operation to a standstill. This is why staying out of it can be a bad idea.
Instead of ignoring the problem consider becoming a facilitator so that your staff can work in an environment free of friction (well, we can hope, right?). Sometimes people clash because their work styles and personalities are similar. Two alpha types can make for some rather distinctive dialogue (or not). In some cases, differences of opinion leave no room for open-mindedness.
If you´d rather not be bothered or you simply don´t have the time, consider bringing in a coach (or recommend someone to your employees) who specializes in melding two separate work styles. A good coach can draw out what´s bugging people in a way that´s constructive for everyone. Sometimes a coach may bring uncomfortable issues out in the open. You should prepare your people for that or at the very least obtain some information from the coach before he or she begins work. Whether you employ a coach or not you´ll need to encourage your staff to talk. Sometimes employees just assume that supervisors want them to like one another and, of course, that´s not usually the case at all. In fact, like our neighbors, we don´t generally choose our colleagues; they´re selected for us and we need to make the best of it.
Next time: more about working it out.