A government employee (A) wrote me recently stating that she has been in a conflict with her coworker (B) for about a month now. I say “conflict,” but according to (A), it was nothing more than a minor misunderstanding…at least at first. Once the problem emerged, (A) noticed that (B) was upset and immediately apologized, explaining the good intentions that were behind her actions. Upon hearing the apology, (B) shrugged it off and proceeded to stop talking completely to (A).
A week passed. No change.
Another week passed, this time with (A) apologizing again. Still no change.
By week three, the supervisor (C) asks (A) if she would like her to facilitate a meeting between (A) and (B) to resolve the problem. (A) agrees, willing to try anything.
Next day: (A) comes to (C’s) office, ready for the meeting. Ten minutes after the meeting was scheduled to begin, (B) strolls in, immediately surprised to see (A) sitting in the room. Apparently, (C) has not told (B) the purpose of the meeting.
Then (C) says the following: “Okay ladies, go kick and scratch each others’ eyes out so we can get this over with.”
Upon hearing (C)s comment, (B) becomes annoyed that she is wasting her time by being in this meeting and says, “Everything is fine, I don’t have a problem” and walks out the door. (A), on the other hand, is in a state of shock over what (C) just said and immediately heads outside to try to walk off her mounting anger. (C), on the other hand, leans back in her chair, shrugs and says, “Well, I tried.”
As you might expect, the situation gets worse…
1. Who is at fault in this scenario?
2. What would have been a more appropriate intervention from the supervisor (C)?
3. What are the possible ramifications of the supervisor’s actions?
Greg Giesen is an speaker, facilitator, management coach, talk radio show host and author of Mondays At 3: A Story for Managers Learning to Lead. Mondays at 3 is an excellent companion to From Bud to Boss. The book is a business parable about a new supervisor’s transition to leadership.
Stay tuned for Part II. In the meantime, feel free comment here or send Greg your responses to the three questions. Greg can be reached at email@example.com or through his website, www.leadingfromwithin.net.
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