Take Up Issues With Co-Workers Before Involving Superiors

March 17, 2015 | Communication, Teamwork

Most of my blog posts are written to leaders of organizations but this one I am speaking not only to leaders but all team members..

About 4 years ago, I had visited one of our locations to oversee some projects as well as use that time to better know our teammates at that location.  It had seen some turnover with the center managers, and our senior management team wanted to have more presence at that location to show support to our team members.

About 3 hours into my visit, an employee who we will call Gertrude came into the area where I was working and shut the door.  Gertrude began to tell me about how she was having issues with another employee who we will call Hortence.  Hortence was not keeping up with her work and the extra work was being shuffled to Gertrude for completion.

Luckily, I had the advantage of being well coached by my leaders in the past. Other leaders may have fallen into the trap of being the “middle man” by talking about Gertrude’s issues to Hortence. Even worse, I could have facilitated a meeting with them.  No.  Instead, I asked Gertrude a simple question.  “Have you talked with Hortence about your problem?”  Gertrude said, “No. I haven’t.”

After I heard this, I encouraged her to try to settle her differences with Hortence before bringing in management to solve the problem.  I also reminded her that “Teamwork” was covered in her Standards of Behavior that she not only acknowledged as read but agreed to follow.

We all have had and will have issues with our co-workers. However, we need to do everything possible to resolve these issues one on one before involving our superior. When our superior gets involved, he/she will make a decision on what is best for the whole team opposed to any one individual so it may not go as we wish.  The result may even be worse than just putting up with our co-worker’s undesired behavior.

So we need to ask ourselves if the offense by our co-worker is so drastic that we are willing to have a conversation with them about it.  If we are not willing address it with the co-worker, then it is probably not worth our superior’s time either. If we do address the co-worker and there is no change, we should ask ourselves if it is worth the possibility of receiving a result less desirable than our current situation.

Tell me about a situation where you had to address a co-worker in which you had an issue?  How did it go for you?

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