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    7 Replies Latest reply on Mar 16, 2010 1:12 PM by horizon21740

    I am not your mother

    daisydawg Newbie
      Good evening everyone,

      I am looking for some assistance in finding a way to resolve an employee conflict issue.
      I have one long term employee and a fairly new hire that cannot seem to maintain a courteous and professional working relationship.
      They have a personality conflict and both have made it known that they do not like each other on a personal level. There have been prior instances between the two of them and I thought that we had resolved the issues however, that is not the case. We have had yet another episode today and the situation is just escalating.
      I did sit them down, individually and collectively, to see what they thought that we could do to resolve the issue and get them to be civil, curteous and professional, to no avail. They seem to be at an impass and I am fresh out of ideas for suggestions. They are both valuable to me for different reasons and I don't want to look like I am taking sides.
      So, to make a long story short, my long-term employee suggested that maybe I could just lay her off since we are rather slow right now and she doesn't think that it is going to work out with her and the new-hire. I don't think that I am comfortable with that as a solution.
      If anyone has any suggestions as to how I can resolve this issue or at least make it less tense for everyone involved, it would be greatly appreciated.

      Thank you.
        • Re: I am not your mother
          socalbits Wayfarer
          first off, catchy title LOL!

          you have quite a situation on your hands. Let me gt this straight, your long-time employee is offer to leave and let the newbie stay in her employed? If this is the case, so points to take into consideration are the following:

          • you save $$$ in payroll
          • no more drama (for now)

          • you would have to retrain the newbie to your environment
          • not sure if the newbie would fit in long-term
          • how do you know this won't happen again since it's happened already as a new hire?

          If you and the long-term person get along great, I'd consider getting rid of the newbie since there is already a working long-term relationship established, she knows the environment and has been pretty good so far. If you found one good new hire, I'm sure there's plenty more since the unemployment rate is high and everyone and their mother (no pun intended ;~) is looking for a job
          • Re: I am not your mother
            BRMcHenry Adventurer
            Hey Dawg,

            Honestly I don't see that you have much of a choice but to send one packing (if not both). It sounds as though they are being childish and the destraction to you, the positions they hold and possibly other employees can not be good for businses. Cut ties with someone and move on.

            Good luck...
            • Re: I am not your mother
              Iwrite Pioneer
              daisydawg, I am confused. Aren't you the boss? Them working together should not be an option but a requirement.

              The fact that after talking with you, they still insist on not getting along is a real problem. Since you can't seperate them, you may have to decode who is worth more to you, but be careful. Letting one go can send a message to the remaining employee that he or she is more important than they actually are - which will only make things worse down the line.

              Do they have to work together? If not, then work out a system where the communication between the two is minimal.
              Is there more than one shift available? If so, move one of them.
              How many employees do you have? If you have more than two, you may need to look at getting rid of both of them - they are sending the wrong message to other employees.

              I really hate letting anyone go but I think both may need to go. Somewhere along they way, they have decided that they don't have to listen to you. The potential for this to escalate into something far more dangerous means you cannot continue the way things are. Workplace violence can leave people hurt or worse, and you liable for what happens. Start by writing both of them up, maybe that will snap them out of this pattern.

              I know I haven't suggested anything new but you are going to have to make a hard decision. Good luck.
                • Re: I am not your mother
                  daisydawg Newbie

                  Thank you for all the replies and have drawn basically all the same conclusions that I have for myself.


                  Some of the reasons that I cannot commit to a decision is due to the following:


                  -Today's episode actually stemmed from the fact that I had to write up the long-term employee for carelessness and unsatisfactory work quality which in turn prompted her to want to take the rest of the office down with her.


                  -The newer employee overheard her trying to throw her under the bus and due to the pre-existing personality conflict, caused the truce that I thought was in place after the last episode to go out the window. Since the last episode, until today, they have maintained a workable relationship within the office, at least in my presence.


                  -The long-term employee has some very good skills and is well liked by customers however, at times, her work can be very inconsistent


                  -The newer employee, so far, has shown herself to be very conscientous and is performing her duties very well

                  I actually have a good relationship with both employees and hate that it might come down to having to lose one, if not both of them. I know that I cannot let me feelings get in the way of making the proper decision for the company however, basically all my employees are long-term, there aren't that many of us and we all work pretty closely together that my judgement sometimes get a bit cloudy.

                  Thanks for any other suggestions or advice that you guys can give.


                • Re: I am not your mother
                  Lighthouse24 Ranger

                  I would not lay off the long term person, as it leaves you shorthanded and could affect your experience rating (i.e., dramatically increase the amount of unemployment taxes you pay). It could also open you up to an age discrimination suit (depending on the size and location of your business).

                  You don't mention what type of positions these are or where your business is located (both relevant to the various options I might recommend). Assuming these employees are something other than minimum wage unskilled labor jobs, assuming that they are not working under an employment contract or bargaining unit agreement, and assuming that your business is operating in an "at will" employment state . . .

                  I would call both people in together and properly mediate an agreement where both parties commit to not let their personal feelings toward each other spill into the workplace again - ever. No more issues or episodes - period.

                  Explain that this unprofessional behavior is costing you time and your business money, and if it occurs again, there will be consequences -- specifically, that you will move both of them into a lower pay grade (which is totally justified, as the difference between, say, a "grade 2" and "grade 3" worker in whatever job they're doing is the amount of supervision required -- and you're having to provide WAY too much for them to be considered top grade employees). Of course, re-grading means a corresponding reduction in pay (20 percent maybe?). The consequences should hurt them, not just you. (If you don't have distinct pay grades for their positions, you can create them now.)

                  One risk there is that if problems continue, the employee who is the better worker will leave before it comes to that (because she is more likely to be able to get a job elsewhere) -- then you'll be stuck shorthanded and one worker will have succeeded in chasing the other away (and she may do the same to the next worker if she doesn't like him/her).

                  To keep that from occurring, make it clear what your expectations are for "courteous and professional" behavior, and then closely monitor their actions. Praise them when they behave appropriately toward each other. But if an issue erupts because one person clearly ignored those stated expectations, don't punish both. Instead, provide a verbal warning to the offender stating that if it occurs again, it may be cause for termination (be sure to document the warning). If it happens again, provide a written warning, again clearly stating that another occurrence could result in termination. Although it will probably never go that far, if it happens a third time, issue another documented warning and send the person home for the remainder of the day with instructions to decide if she really wants to work there or not. If it happens a fourth time, terminate the person immediately -- and be sure to document that fact that she had at least five chances to comply before you took that action, but refused to do so.

                  Obviously, if these employees have some type of employment contract that specifies their wages or salaries, or if you're not in an "at will" state, then you'll need a different solution -- but I hope this is relevant and useful to you. Good luck.
                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                  • Re: I am not your mother
                    DebbyBlitzLoc Adventurer
                    You mentioned that the long term employee is inconsistent with the quality of work she performs. Do you think this is a direct result of the personality clash or has this been an ongoing issue?

                    It sounds like you are a smaller company with few employees. My issue would be that these two bickering employees are negatively impacting the morale of all and thereby hurting customer relations as well.

                    Sometimes it is necessary to bring them together and state very clearly, one more episode and you are both fired. Period. These are adults and if they value their jobs it is time they start behaving as such. You are not their mom, their day care provider and the simple fact that they cannot act like adults and work together is in my opinion enough of a reason to have them both gone!


                    • Re: I am not your mother
                      horizon21740 Wayfarer
                      I agree, I would not lay off the long-term employee. It seems that you need to lay out some expectations and take disciplinary action if need be. This is a very childish scenario, and as a small business owner, you don't have time for it. Take action and move on.