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Conflict between co-workers

Author Sidney87
#1 | Posted: 3 Aug 2006 06:47 
I am looking for suggestions on ways to handle personal conflicts between 2 co-workers in my group. These differences of opinion go back long before I became CSM. Their lifestyles are completely different, there is a 25 year difference in age and they are both have very defensive personalities. Would it be better to address each of them individually or should we meet as a group and just get it "out in the open"?

Author ms hd
#2 | Posted: 5 Aug 2006 22:57 
Create a special project, and make them both work side by side for the duration. this includes taking their breaks and lunches together, and when giving the assignment, act as if you know nothing of the conflict. if they are going to act like children, treat them that way!

Author bforest
#3 | Posted: 7 Aug 2006 13:52 
People do not like to be treated like children, even if they ARE acting childish. I agree that they need to be put on the same project, however, meet with them together to discuss the project. Tell them that thaty both have something to contribute to the project as well as something that can be learned from eachother. Let them know that you realize that they have differences in opinion, but that you are counting on them to work out their differences together for the sake of a successful outcome to the project. Afterwards, if the project IS a success, hopefully there is a public forum for which you can thank them for their hard work and maybe even take both of them out to lunch with you to celebrate. It's important to keep in mind that the older employee might be concerned about losing their job to an "up and coming" younger employee, and the younger employee might be concerned about how to make their own way in the company while surrounded with other, more experienced co-workers.

Author KarenSB
#4 | Posted: 30 Aug 2006 08:39 
Conflict management tests the true nettle of managers. Most of us shy away from it, which is the biggest mistake one can make. Conflicts need to be handled immediately and appropriately. Most conflicts should be kept between the parties involved. Some conflicts need to be more public.

I'm assuming that the personal conflict you are refering to is causing workplace problems: performance, customer satisfaction, morale. If not, you wouldn't be posing the question, right? There is a distinction between a workplace issue and a personal conflict. (There will ALWAYS be personal conflicts as we each are guided by our own set of values).

I wouldn't put them on a project together unless and until I first pulled them together and facilitated a discussion to understand the root cause, which would in turn help me ascertain if they could HANDLE a project together. My customers are far too valuable to subject them to personal personnel differences.

There are plenty of excellent resources on Conflict Management. I would recommend some surfing for discovery. PDI (Personnel Decisions, Inc.), Lominger Limited, SHL are a few examples of research-based organizations that have published books on the subject.

Good luck!

Author cedennis
#5 | Posted: 14 Sep 2006 10:48 
First, meet with each individual separately. Speak to them in general terms, like you know something is between them, but that it is having a negative impact on the business, so it is now your concern, as manager.

Ask them if they understand how the issues between them can effect the rest of the department, and if either of them do not understand, then calmly explain it to them.

Then, ask each of them, if, for the good of the department / company, would they be willing to put this issue to bed, if the other party would agree to, as well. You are asking for a professional commitment from each of them, and it is concerning a business issue, so this is in line with your job as manager.

If the first person agrees to this, then go to the second person, and tell him/her that the other person has agreed to put their issue to bed, so would he/she also agree to do so? If the answer is yes, then you bring them both together, and say that each of you has made a commitment to me, your boss, to put this issue between you behind you. I appreciate your efforts in doing so, and while I have no expectations that you will become close friends, I do expect you to be civil to one another, as we are all on the same team here.

If one or the other person can not make the commitment to put the issue to bed, then that person needs to be advised to look elsewhere for work, since they are a disruptive force in the department.

If neither party will commit to putting the issue to bed, then you have some choices to make. You can decide which one is more valuable to your team, and let the other go, OR, you can decide that both of them are disruptive to the teamwork that you require, and let them both go, telling them that they have brought this on themselves by their inability and refusal to get along civilly.

Doing nothing in NOT an option! As manager, your team depends on you to keep the ship running smoothly. This is not an issue between 2 people - it is a team issue, and all eyes are on you to see how you reslove it.

Good luck!

Chuck Dennis

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 Conflict between co-workers

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