Q: I’ve two employees who don’t like each other and are constantly ‘telling’ on each other. It’s wasting my time, affecting office morale and I’ve had enough. What can I do? ~ Gareth
A: Conflict is inevitable, but when it goes unchecked and affects the workplace, it’s time to tackle it head on. Talk to them together, explain how their behaviour is impacting on others and give them limited options: 1) work on it together, 2) involve a mediator, or 3) both resign (no winners). If they don’t have the motivation or the ‘skill’ to handle their differences, commit them to remediation (communication or conflict resolution training).
Q: We have a gossip, but she’s really good at her job – so good that we usually overlook her innuendoes and hints that make others look bad. But every conversation leaves me with a bad impression of whomever she’s talking about. ~ Rhoda
A: Gossip is one expression of insecurity. How do you handle it? Be direct. Let her know (with examples) that her behaviour is inappropriate and you don’t want to hear it. You may not be friends, but do you want to befriend a gossip? But also give her specific compliments and affirm her good interactions. If everyone in the office does the same, things will change.
Boorish and boring
Q: My department supervisor is self-centered and conceited (his jokes are crass bordering on sexist) and he has a horrible habit of cornering people and, if allowed, ‘monologuing’ for hours. How can I stop him? ~ Celia
A: Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) is a specialised form of military training used by armed forces all over the world. Plan, prepare, and practise a number of strategies and replay past scenarios employing them so that you can become an elite expert in workplace SERE. Your very work life may depend on it!
Need more time
Q: I’m 39, work as a FT supervisor, volunteer at a community project, have three kids (four counting my husband), two dogs, and parents who need constant attention. I also take evening classes in leadership. I’d appreciate some time management tips. ~ Jacqui
A: You don’t need time management. You’ve been pressing the accelerator too much for too long and things are out of control. Learn to use the brake pedal (cut back). Eliminate the non-essentials and focus on the criticals (for a season). You’ll have more time and may not need as much time management as you think. Less can be more.
What to avoid with a horse (or a boss)
– Do not make sudden or unpredictable movements
– Do not make loud or startling noises
– Do not surprise/harass them while they’re eating (or during other down times)
What to do with a horse (or a boss)
– Understand their body language (pause to watch, reflect and respond)
– Confidently and in a non-threatening manner, let them know you’re there
– Before approaching, create an inviting atmosphere and not a demanding presence
– Approach them diagonally and from the front whenever possible
– Avoid areas of vulnerability (blind spots)
– Respect their flight zone (keep the emergency exit clear)
– Stay out of their kicking range/zone
– Give them treats and rewards