How do I sort out a dispute that’s gotten hand of hand between two of my employees?

Two of my first three hires don’t get on.


They refuse to speak to each other unless necessary and are always complaining about the other. It seems to be based upon petty grievances that I neither have the time nor inclination to sort out for them. What should I do?


With employees come responsibilities. The moment you employ staff you are obliged to manage them.


Irrespective of your reluctance or supposed lack of time (copout), you are required to do something about the behaviour.


I live my life by the expression: “What you accept, you approve”.


By being passive, you are condoning. By ignoring the behaviour, you are exacerbating the situation. You need to intervene and advise what you are expecting in terms of behaviour.


You can do this in terms of the business, not the personalities. It is counterproductive for petty squabbles to pervade the workplace. So step up to the plate and address the issue.


The process to use is as follows:

  • Speak to each person individually.
  • Be ASK Assertive. That means don’t pre-judge. Ask each person to explain to you what is going on.
  • Advise that you are concerned that the behaviour is impacting upon the business. You are seeking a change in behaviour from both parties.
  • Request that each person comes back to you with a recommendation (gain buy-in). If they were the manager, what would they do to improve to situation?
    • Review their input. If you can build on their suggestions, great!

    • If not, advise them that in the absence of any sensible suggestions you have outlined a plan.
  • Meet with them together and explain your plan. Your plan needs to address the real issues, not the present petty squabbles.
  • Put in place a series of milestones.
  • Document, document, document: Keep accurate records of the process.
  • Review their employment contracts.
  • Assess if they are making progress.
  • If not, either performance manage them or use the probationary clause to move them out.

What’s that, I hear you say? Obtain some support and advice from an HR advisory company. That might be a good idea too.


But whatever you do, remember this quote: “In any moment of decision the best thing to do is the right thing. The worst thing to do is nothing,” – Theodore Roosevelt


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