I have two staff members who literally hate each other. Help!

Dear Aunty B,

I have two staff members who literally hate each other.

Honestly it is like an unfunny comedy routine. One is a skinny, very clinical rational analyst/accountant who works closely with the IT department. The other is the obese, straggly haired, shambolic  IT manager who works really odd hours, never does budgets, always has cost overruns but is brilliant, irreplaceable and we get great value from him.

My problem is I don’t want to lose either of them but I am sick to death of both of them harping and bitching about the other. Honestly Aunty, neither of them has any insight whatsoever into how ridiculous and unprofessional they both are. I go blue in the face telling them to stop fighting but they find the other person outrageous and act really hurt that I can’t possibly see their point of view.

The accountant just won’t accept that the IT manager is physically incapable of getting paperwork in on time and the IT guy thinks he is just picked on by an anally retentive, neurotic nutcase whom he will only address as Alan (after that guy in Two and a Half Men.) Any advice before I bang their heads together?

Linda D,


Dear Linda,

Ha. As if you haven’t got enough to worry about.

Here is what I would do. Forget the IT guy. Some of them are certifiable. (Just check out Whirlpool forums – though, of course, my IT guys are all sane, charming, fit, hygienic – and no comment on hair.)

No. The one to concentrate on is your accountant. Tell him that it is his responsibility to get that paperwork in on time even if he has to do it himself. And the second thing he must do is to manage the IT guy so they get on. Explain that if he is to have a future in your company he has to develop better people skills. And that includes dealing with difficult people.

The way to deal with difficult people is to explain things to them often like they are children. Now I am an expert in dealing with difficult people. You may need to explain things in different ways, using different metaphors. You may need to cajole, charm and disarm to get what you want. You do what it takes to get them on board.

Explain to the accountant that it is now part of his job and he has to learn how to do it. Make sure these management skills are in his KPI and get him to do a course so that he can take his career to the next level – and word the course people up on what you want out of it.

Why focus on the accountant? Because they understand and respect KPIs of course!

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

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