HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » The DU Lounge (Forum) » How do I supervise employ...
Introducing Discussionist: A new forum by the creators of DU

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 06:41 PM

How do I supervise employees who don't get along?

This is the first time I have ever been a supervisor. I am in WAY over my head here. They should never have hired me. Never. I am shit at communicating, first off and I avoid things and situations that make me uncomfortable. But here we are, so in order for me not to get fired when my probationary period ends, I need to help improve the situation. It is not going to be solved overnight and may never be a picnic but there have to be changes.

I have two employees I supervise. They hate each other. One hates her job and complains incessantly about how she does all the work but gets crapped on, no matter what, and complains that she does more work than the other (not necessarily true I might add). Now, both of them do the job well enough. It is not a job performance issue. That would be easy.

The second employee basically does what she wants to do, and ONLY what she wants to do, avoids doing things or going in the field when she doesn't want to go. People have learned to work around that, which they shouldn't necessarily have done. It is why the first employee never asks the second one to help her with stuff.

One possible solution (that I don't really want to use) is to make assignments every single day. No, they know what needs to be done, far better than I do because they have been here much longer. And I do not want to be a micro-manager. At all. Everybody hates that.

33 replies, 9444 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 33 replies Author Time Post
Reply How do I supervise employees who don't get along? (Original post)
alarimer Jul 2012 OP
NYC_SKP Jul 2012 #1
alarimer Jul 2012 #10
RedStateLiberal Jul 2012 #2
GreenPartyVoter Jul 2012 #3
Callalily Jul 2012 #4
MiddleFingerMom Jul 2012 #5
NV Whino Jul 2012 #6
Kennah Jul 2012 #16
mrmpa Jul 2012 #7
HopeHoops Jul 2012 #8
bluedigger Jul 2012 #9
alarimer Jul 2012 #11
Major Nikon Jul 2012 #15
Generic Brad Jul 2012 #12
rustydog Jul 2012 #32
lizerdbits Jul 2012 #13
Mopar151 Jul 2012 #14
JVS Jul 2012 #17
Ikonoklast Jul 2012 #25
JVS Jul 2012 #30
Ikonoklast Jul 2012 #31
Enrique Jul 2012 #18
Amerigo Vespucci Jul 2012 #19
Ikonoklast Jul 2012 #20
DebJ Jul 2012 #23
Ikonoklast Jul 2012 #24
GoneOffShore Jul 2012 #21
davsand Jul 2012 #22
liberal N proud Jul 2012 #26
Glassunion Jul 2012 #27
Scuba Jul 2012 #28
LanternWaste Jul 2012 #29
Curmudgeoness Jul 2012 #33

Response to alarimer (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 06:48 PM

1. What's the down side if you don't do anything at all?

I'd ask that question first.

If you must do something, I'd consider giving them a JOINT task.

You might also ask them to each list what their duties are that they like in one column and don't like in another column and have a joint discussion about it, the three of you. Maybe they'd like to discuss trading some duties.

They're never going to get along, but they might be able to be more mutually supportive.

That's all I got.

Good luck.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to NYC_SKP (Reply #1)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 08:56 PM

10. The problem is the way it affects everyone around them.

While there is plenty of blame to go around, one employee is particularly unhappy with the job and complains a lot. The other one is just a little too bossy.

I have been remiss in that I have let things slide because they do their jobs well otherwise.
It is really a problem with how they communicate with each other.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 06:54 PM

2. Could you...

...make sure they interact as little as possible? And, make sure they know that if they have a problem with another employee they should report directly to you rather than get into a confrontation with that employee.

It seems a refresher course on professionalism in the workplace is needed. Perhaps direct them to appropriate websites?

I have no experience supervising, so take my advice with a grain of salt. I'm sure it's a lot more complicated.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 06:55 PM

3. Lay down the law and point out they are replaceable? These are not your

teenage kids, they don't get to act like it.

Good luck!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 07:17 PM

4. I agree with GreenPartyVoter

Tell them each to grow up and to keep the complaining to themselves citing that it disrupts (and I'm sure this is true) the entire department.

Remind the job hater that she can go elsewhere anytime! There would be a whole bunch of people lined up to take her job.

And the one who complains she does more work than the rest - tell her to document and prove her point. If it's true, as a supervisor it's your job to fix that situation.

Do not tolerate negativism or gossip from anyone and make that point clear to the whole department.

Maybe take some management classes. I work with a few supervisors that do not have a clue how to manage their employees/departments, which is frustrating for the rest of us.

Good luck.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 07:21 PM

5. Jello wrestling!!!

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

.
.
.
.
.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 07:30 PM

6. Another thing to try

Ask each of them how they see the solution to the problem. Have them each define the problem first.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to NV Whino (Reply #6)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 04:25 AM

16. While I have no management experience, I like this one.

The OP has walked into a shit sandwich and there is history. Letting them define the problem may lead to some venting of spleens, but it will likely also help start getting past blame.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 07:39 PM

7. Faced this one before.............

told both employees that I was recommending counseling. The company had an employee assistance program (EAP). I spoke with the employees separately, told them what I viewed the problems to be and that they needed to speak to a counselor about the issues.

I didn't see an immediate improvement, but within 3 months it was tolerable and manageable.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 07:55 PM

8. Same as with training kittens - SUPER SOAKER!

 

Invite them both out for lunch with you, or if appropriate, out for beers after work. The change of scenery often changes a lot more. I had one that was hostile toward ME, but that approach smoothed things over a bit.



Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 08:35 PM

9. If they are getting shit done - nothing.

I used to have a boss who would pair up people (we worked in two person teams usually) that didn't get along on purpose for his own amusement. It was pretty funny sometimes, but then again it was a fluid work environment, so it wasn't for an indefinite duration. It did empower people to take responsibility for their own crappy attitudes I observed.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to bluedigger (Reply #9)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 08:58 PM

11. I am going to do that to a limited degree

I think it is a good idea for them to go out in the field together once in a while, even if they don't like it much.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Reply #11)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 03:08 AM

15. I would avoid rubbing their noses together

You are always going to have employees who don't get along to one degree or another. Mostly I just leave them alone and let them work out their own differences. The exception is if it's adversely affecting the workplace. If it starts to affect the workplace, then you have a problem you must deal with. I've seen these situations tear an entire unit apart. Employees start taking sides. Some start ratting each other out which leads to retribution. It can get really nasty. You don't want to let a situation like that get out of hand. Many new managers will take a hands off approach even as their world is colapsing around them. It's very difficult to deal with personality issues, but that's what you sign up for as a manager.

The first step I take is just to sit the two employees down in a room together and explain that things have to change, one way or another. They can either initiate and control that change themselves, or someone else can do it for them to the detriment of one or both. Given those options, most people are going to want to work out their own problems themselves. The key is to try and get them to figure out how to resolve it themselves. If you just hand them the solution and say, this is what you're going to do or else, most people don't receive that very well. Sometimes when people are in this situation, they realize how childish they are behaving and they decide to work things out. Sometimes there's just too much bad blood and one or both need to move to another shift or another unit.

Some things to avoid are do not take sides. This can be very difficult. Inevitably you will favor one employee over another. If you take sides, one or both of the employees are going to think they are getting the raw end of the deal. Don't expect the employees to kiss and make up. Sometimes you will never be able to make them get along which is fine. The goal is to make sure their differences don't affect the workplace. Another thing to avoid is trying to put a quick fix on it. Follow up with both employees sitting in the same room at regular intervals and see how whatever measures you have put in place are working. Some large companies have in-house mediation services that work very well in these situations. Other companies contract out mediation services. If this is an option, I highly encourage it. I've had very good luck with mediation. It doesn't solve everything, but often it can make a big difference.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 10:52 PM

12. Have you told them your expectations?

I insist my employees address each other respectfully. If they do not, I consider it a performance issue and address it as such.

And one more thing....document the hell out of it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Generic Brad (Reply #12)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 09:36 PM

32. Bingo. HR must have policies and procedures covering behavior and professionalism

I have a couple of snarky people inmy department that areon last and final.
customer service is #1. Everyone is our customer treat them like you want to be treated.

If you can't put your personal differences aside, perhaps you need to look for work elsewhere because if your behaviors do not change, you will be replaced due to compliance issues.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Mon Jul 30, 2012, 11:16 PM

13. Martyrdom?

The first one sounds like a former coworker. Never asked for help but complained to our boss that no one else was helping. She didn't complain out loud as far as I know, just to our boss. Your situation sounds a little different with one person not doing what they should be in a group. In my situation, several of us were looking for things to do but the martyr wouldn't allow it. Looking back, I think it would have been a good idea for my boss to just assign tasks to everyone. Micromanaging is annoying, but sometimes it has to be done when you have a martyr or someone who isn't all that interested in working as much as the rest of the group. I'd suggest asking why employee #1 is so unhappy, but I'm not a great communicator either, so if I were a supervisor, I'm not sure I'd have the guts.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 12:09 AM

14. Task assignment = to-do list

List the work assignments/work orders/jobs by work center (machine or assembly area, in my case) - assign priorities to individuals.
Once a week worked for me. EVERYBODY gets a copy of the same list.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:25 AM

17. Fire them

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to JVS (Reply #17)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 01:47 PM

25. Hi, Mitt!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Ikonoklast (Reply #25)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 03:04 PM

30. I said fire, not outsource

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to JVS (Reply #30)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 09:25 PM

31. Ahem.




He likes doing both.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:38 AM

18. ask the one to stop complaining

say it like this, "Please stop complaining".

You say there's no performance issue, so the only issue I see is the constant complaining, which you can say is not allowed. If she has an issue she can go through channels.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 11:56 AM

19. First thing you need to do is let go of the need to be "liked."

...and I'm basing that strictly on your remarks that "I do not want to be a micro-manager. At all. Everybody hates that."

You have two considerations here...one is keeping your job, and I assume you want that ("...in order for me not to get fired when my probationary period ends, I need to help improve the situation....").

If that really is what you want, your second...and only other...concern needs to be putting together the necessary steps in order for you to end up with two "low or no maintenance" employees who are performing their jobs to the standards set in exchange for their paychecks.

The behavior you describe for each is horseshit. Allowing it is even worse. If you want them to continue to spin in their childish little orbits and continually bump heads, the first one to go will be you, not either one of them. You'll be looking for a new job and they'll be pains in the ass of the person who gets your job when you're shown the door.

So forget about what "everybody hates" and decide if you want your job. If you do, you've outlined the problem. Do something about it. Go to YOUR manager and say "Here's what's going on and here's what I think should be done about it. What do YOU think?" Managers LOVE that. They HATE having you bring a problem to them and dropping at their feet and acting like a helpless child, but they LOVE it when you walk in with a solution and say "What do YOU think?"

And if you have to ride their ass on a daily basis until they straighten the hell out or you have to let them go, do it, and don't think twice about it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 01:00 PM

20. You need to take control of a toxic situation. Now.

Take each employee aside privately, and give them the chance to air every grievance they may have with their job, other employees, even with you as their immediate supervisor.

Make sure they know that there will be no repercussions for them to say what they feel, but only after impressing upon them that personal animosity toward any other employee, for whatever reason, real or imagined, will no longer be tolerated by management.

What must be communicated with a toxic employee who hates their job and is continuously complaining about it, killing the morale and and making the work environment of all other employees uncomfortable, is that such behavior will no longer tolerated by management.

If the employee has a problem with the workload, it is the responsibility of the employee to inform management of their concerns, not to gripe about it to other employees. If the workload is indeed exceeding the scope of their employment, it is up to you as a supervisor to adjust it.

If they continue to complain, then explain to them the corrective steps that will be used by management, up to and including termination, to rectify the continued behavior of the employee.

Tell them in no uncertain terms that their continued employment hinges upon concentrating upon doing the tasks assigned to them as individuals by management, and what others are doing within the organization is of absolutely no concern of theirs; it is your problem as their supervisor to see that each employee is performing as they should, not any employees to be watching what others may or may not be doing.

Any employee that gets to decide the scope of what their employment will be that deviates from the agreed-upon parameters of employment between management and employee, should then be given assigned tasks to complete, as they have shown that they cannot be relied upon to do them using their own initiative.

If they continue to have a problem with field work, ask them if they realize that it lies well within the scope of their employment to perform such work as warranted by management, and if they continue to refuse to do so, their pay will then be re-adjusted to the lower expectations of the employee by management.

Inform your immediate supervisor of these concerns. Let them know exactly what the problems are, the personnel involved, and the course of action you will use in your attempt to rectify it.

Communicate to the employee(s) involved that upper management is aware of the situation, has given you the means to fix it, and will be kept informed by you on a set time-table.

The employees should be informed that they will be re-interviewed and their behavior assessed in ten working days, then every thirty days thereafter, and that your findings will be documented and given to upper management for either further remedial action or approval of the employee's co-operation.

There is no real way to keep two people from hating each other, BUT, on company time, you can certainly demand of them to keep their personal animosity to themselves, as it is definitely within your rights as their supervisor to keep them from poisoning the atmosphere for all other employees that may be exposed to such negative behavior.

It all starts with you.

Keep your emotions out of it. Let the employee get it out in the open, let them be emotional in private, get it all out...then FIX IT.

Ask the employee for suggestions as what they would do in your place, as if it was their job depended on this matter being resolved in a satisfactory manner...because it just might.

The best thing about this, is that it works. You need to get out in front of this, and take charge.

That is what you are getting paid to do.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Ikonoklast (Reply #20)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 01:20 PM

23. Excellent response!

I supervised people for many years in a variety of jobs. Ikonoklast is right on the mark.

I would add that for keeping your own emotions out of it, you might want to try practicing
at home. Do what is most comfortable for you, but here is the approach I would use:
No need to be stern, angry, or upset. Just very calm, collected and cool: this really
is just a matter of practical common sense on how people must act in a work environment.
Maybe think about how good you will feel over the next few months as all this stuff
starts to vaporize away. And how successful you will feel because YOU are the one who
made it vaporize. Being calm, collected and cool conveys that you are completely
in charge, and will earn you respect. There is no greater management tool to have in
your arsenal than the earned respect of your crew. You'd be surprised what efforts people
will put out for someone they respect. (Doesn't mean they like the resolutions of situations,
but the respect you.)


I remember my first days as a supervisor. It was tough, but I had a good
mentor in my boss, and got the grip of it so well that my employees in later years
loved me, and we all worked very well together and earned praise from upper mgmt
for our team. I was promoted over and over again, to various positions in various
companies, because leadership skills are valuable in any domain. I eventually
became a District Manager for one company. So tough it out, it is worth it!

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to DebJ (Reply #23)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 01:44 PM

24. This isn't anything I thought up all by myself, now!

No way will I take credit for it, this is all stuff I learned over twenty years ago as part of a management seminar put on by the person that created a actual, workable solution to personnel problems which usually plague lower- and middle-level supervision and management.

I took away a lot of tools to use from that seminar, and by golly, when used correctly, they actually do work!

The hardest thing to do is to remain emotionally neutral, you got that exactly right. It's the single toughest thing to do, but with practice, you will get better at it.

It is far easier to deal with employees in a dispassionate manner than to let anger get the better of you, no matter how hard they try to elicit your anger as a response.

One other thing that is difficult to learn is that as a manager, I was not there to be liked.

I was put in charge of my department as the agent of the owners to carry out their directives in the most efficient way possible.

If the employees liked me, that was OK.

If they despised, me, well, that too was OK, just as long as they kept it to themselves and got their assigned work done in a satisfactory manner.

One of my best employees hated my guts, he was the hardest-working sunofagun I had, I respected his knowledge and skill-set, and had no problem whatsoever with either the quality or quantity of his production.

He interacted with me in a professional manner, and over the years we came to a degree of mutual detente.

We still didn't go out for beers together.

I wished that I had ten guys just like him.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 01:14 PM

21. All of the replies in this thread sound like reasonable solutions

And if none of them work, remember that Taser's are relatively cheap.


Added the smiley just in case the Meta Patrol was in the Lounge.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 01:20 PM

22. I'd start with having them write up their own job descriptions.

Sit down with both of them and go over their job descriptions as they wrote them. That by itself might be enough to get a lot of the dirty laundry out there in the open. If you have a situation where you have two differing views of the job you can set the record straight at that time, and establish in a positive way what your expectations are for them. I'd follow that conversation up with a memo summing up the conversation--that way you have a record of having issued an initial round of counseling for your employees.

I'd also go out of my way to stress to them both--at the SAME time--that domestic tranquility is a precious thing. Complaining repeatedly without documentation about anyone else is not a positive thing to do, and with time will only weaken their own standing.

You may, possibly, be in a position where you are forced to delineate who does what and when they will do it. If so, do it, and don't worry over it. Your job is to manage--not be a pal.

Good luck with this. Inherited staff can be a challenge for anyone--let alone a first time manager.


Laura

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 01:48 PM

26. Whatever you do...

don't sit them down in a room and tell them they need to work it out.

That usually just exasperates the problem.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 01:51 PM

27. Have you tried pistols at dawn?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 02:20 PM

28. Thanks for posting this, you've reminded me of another reason I'm glad I'm retired....

There's a post above about making sure your expectations are understood - that's a good start.

I'd add that "contributing to a positive work environment" is a job expectation and being disruptive is not acceptable. You said their work performance was fine but that's not true if the above requirement is a known expectation. They don't have to love each other, but their behavior CANNOT be allowed to effect others. That's part of the job, just like every other responsibility.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 02:35 PM

29. Make the daily assignments-- for now, with the caveat that...

I supervise twenty four people-- up from eight four only years ago, and it was my first time managing children-- even the sixty-one year child, so I absolute empathize with you in this. So take this for what it's worth. Make the daily assignments-- for now, with the caveat that over time, after your trust is earned, you will eventually stop doing that. Then speechify them:


"I don't care who you like or dislike-- you come to work to make money, not to make friends. If another person actively prevents you from doing your job, let me know-- it will be between her and I. If you yourself are actively preventing you from doing your job, now is the time to stop that... or quit. I will be maintaining a very, very close eye on the work done by each individual in this department. That may stop once you have all earned my trust. However, in the meantime, I will be closely reviewing all your output and will expect all of you to do the tasks you were hired to do."

"I'm not a cheerleader, a family counselor, nor a referee-- I'm a supervisor... I supervise this department and am responsible for what leaves this office. My boss does not allow me to excuse myself from jobs simply because I dislike them, and I will not excuse you from the same."

"I'm not here to be liked, to be popular, or to date anyone-- I'm here for one reason: to manage this department as effectively as I can. I'm interested in numbers and output, I'm NOT interested in who is mad at who, who likes who, or who did what this past weekend. You and I come here for one reason-- to receive a paycheck for the work we were hired to do. If you think that is unfair, see HR. If you think I'm being unfair, see HR. If you think you should receive some special dispensation from a job because you "don't like it", see HR. Use HR as your therapist or counselor, I'm too busy making sure we all achieve the best results possible with the tools we have to waste time listening to you complain about someone else."




And hold true to that. Within a (very long) year, the chaff will quit or be fired, the wheat will maintain and grow. And you will be perceived by both employee and employer as someone who is firm, fair, and results-oriented. Everything else (everything else!) is fluff. Good luck-- I was in waaaay over my head when I began managing my department, and wasted a LOT of time trying to be mother, father, and therapist to everyone-- but that's an impossible task. Maintain records, crunch numbers (if applicable), micro-manage everyone for the time being, and concern yourself only with results and the process used to achieve them. You'll either be credited or blamed for those results by your employer, but your employer will never credit or blame you for having employees who act like children.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to alarimer (Original post)

Tue Jul 31, 2012, 09:49 PM

33. They don't have to like each other.

And that is the first thing that I would tell each of them in separate one-on-one meetings. They don't have to like each other, but they do have to learn to work together. They are to treat each other the same as they would treat a customer---they are customers as well as co-workers. I would deal with each one's issues personally---keep the complaining out of the workplace to the one, and there are things that we like to do and things that we don't like to do, but all of them are necessary and will be done.

Let them know that the situation as it is will not be tolerated, and that means that their jobs could hang in the balance if they do not learn to work with each other, even if it is minimally.

But don't forget to be prepared with praise for the things that they do well. And if the situation improves after your talk, make sure to let them know you notice.

Good luck.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread