Two Peas In a Pod

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about two at-odds employees:

We have two employees who are close in age (over 50) and who have been engaging in territorial debates which came to a head last week. One employee was very direct in her displeasure at the other employee talking about her to others and physically barred the employee from exiting her room until she was heard.

The “victim” has had run-ins with everyone on staff due to her controlling nature and it could be said brought it on herself. My partner and I do not want to fire either employee, but what steps should be taken against the employee who “locked the door and shook her finger in the other employees face”???

Signed, Steps to Take

Dear Steps to Take:

From your description of “my partner and I”, I assume one or both of you supervise these two and are responsible for resolving disputes and discipline. The two certainly aren’t teenagers, but you might best treat them as such. That could entail one or several overlapping tacts: You spell out who has what space and the rules of their communication.Force them to detail what is their territorial dispute and negotiate a division that they will live with, or I should say, “work within”.

This could include them hammering out do and don’t communication/behavioral rules that would be reviewed after three weeks trial. Ascertain, who was most to blame for the dispute and escalation to a locked door and shook finger,” and make a written warning– Written because such behavior entailed close to a physical assault. You might also require an apology and indicate that the warning would last for a year and would escalate to stage three that could mean suspension and/or discharge.

Perhaps these suggestions will prompt a more creative resolution to your two peas in a pod. From a distance, advice certainly is disinterested but also suffers from not knowing the context of your work group and area. Therefore, I predict you will work through this and find doing so surfaces and resolves more than a locked door and shook finger.

Hopefully, you will help both become more aware that they are paid to make their work group function as a team rather than as antagonistic coworkers. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. It would be interesting to have your two peas discuss how my signature sentence applies to them.

William Gorden