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Construction Programs & Results Inc

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Friction on the Job - or in the office

by Michael Stone

Whenever you get two people together, there's the chance of a disagreement. When a disagreement is resolved sensibly, there's no problem. When it isn't, and a disagreement (or maybe even personality clash) continues between employees, common sense tells you that production is going to drop and your business is going to pay for the discord.

What can you do to encourage your employees to set their personal stuff aside and stay focused on getting the job done?

Suppose you have two carpenters, or a leadman and a carpenter that are not getting along. You hear bits and pieces of it rattling around the company, but it hasn't really come to a head yet, you just know there are problems.

Call both parties into a meeting. Sit them down and start the meeting with, "Joe, Bob, I'm aware that the two of you seem to have a problem getting along. It's disrupting the workflow of this company, and that means it's costing me money. It's going to stop as of right now. I'm going to leave you in this room and ask the two of you to resolve any and all issues you might have. You don't have to agree with each other – maybe you need to agree to disagree. But I need you to be able to get along, without causing discord, if you both want to stay employed. Stay in here until you can get your differences resolved. If you can't, or if down the road I continue to see problems between you, your future with this company will be coming to an end." Then you get up and leave.

Every time I've seen this method used, it has worked. Many employees don't realize the impact their disagreement is having on the company. When it's pointed out to them, the need to take care of their families almost always will override their egos and things will get resolved.

Comments

Mitch Stanley (not verified) /

I've used this method on several occasions and it usually works. If it doesn't, then either one or both of the individuals involved is not a good fit for our company.

Mitch

Bill (not verified) /

Mike/Mitch
I agree with both with a one one one scenario in the feild, but what about in the office? Background is I have 15-20 out and now 6 in, bookkeeper is the eldest and gradually becoming impossible to deal with, work Is beyond great, reports are top notch, but, she has, due to family medical issues, has become not a nice person. And has isolated herself to the point no one wants to speak with her.

We have gin the one on one route and it worked for a short time but new staff come to me within a week and ask what they have done. You getbtomthe point where you can't sugar coat.

How should this be handled?

BTW, the reports and financials are a direct result of both editions of the book and the calculator. Thank you for that.

Bill:

I have seen this happen before and this is why you get paid the big bucks to run your company. I can suggest one of two approaches here depending on if you think this person is salvageable or not.

1) If she is, set her down, tell her the problem and don't paint any flowers around it and don't listen to any excuses or yah buts. Then tell her she is getting a week off without pay to go home and clean up her attitude and her ability to get along with and work with others in your office. Tell her when she comes back she had best be on her very best behavior at all times. Also tell her from that point on if you get any complaints from any of the rest of your staff about her, (and you would have to verify the complaint in fairness) she will be terminated on the spot. Don't listen to any of the "I'll try harder, I can't pay my bills, the sky is falling" or the rest of that stuff.

If she doesn't like that option then hand her her final check on the spot.

2) If she can't or isn't worth salvaging, then send her down the road ASAP.

Please trust me on this Bill, unless you draw a very clear line in the sand and are prepared to enforce it, she will not improve. You might also suggest to her during her week off that she get started with someone like Lutheran Family Services for counseling. They do a very good job of helping folks out with a whole range of personality problems or issues. There are others that do a good job as well.

Don't wait on this one. Get it done ASAP because if you don't you are going to start loosing other good people and she is going to cost you even more lost production from your staff than she is right now. She is costing you money and that is not why you hire people to help you with your business.

Michael

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