When two employees are not getting along, or might actually hate each other its imperative that you understand this hate is rooted in fear and if you don’t address the fear, you will never fix the conflict.
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Today I want to address for you what to do when you have two employees in your restaurant who absolutely hate each other.
I got emailed a question a couple of weeks ago from someone on my email list that said…
“I have two employees who absolutely hate each other… what can I do about it?”
So he and I went back and forth a little bit and it turns out these two employees really did hate each other!
The root cause of hate, always comes down to fear. So what I want you to do when you have two employees who aren’t getting along well or if it’s gone so far as they absolutely hate each other, like these two employees did… I want you to first get the mind-set that this hatred always comes from fear. Now once you know that we can move on to the first step.
I want you to remove any bias or favouritism. Oftentimes when two employees are bickering it builds–and builds–and builds–and if it builds to the pint of hatred, you have probably taken a side by this point. You’re probably seeing one employee as more right than the other. You’re probably favoring one employee over the other. So what I need you to do is to remove any bias. To kinda take a deep breath, look at the situation objectively and start over..
The next step is going to be to sit down and talk with these two employees one-on-one. Don’t let them know that you’re talking to each other. Don’t make it a big deal, just pull the first employee aside and say “Hey I was wondering if you had a few minutes and we can talk today.”
What I want you to ask that employee are questions about their comfort level in your restaurant—in the business. Do they have a clear path to promotion? Do they know the difference between if they’re doing a good job or a poor job? Have they been rewarded lately—is there a system in place for any kind of reward? Do they know exactly what their tasks are, what their job duties and responsibilities are?
If they’re vague in their responses to any of these…then you need to work with that employee to make sure that’s clear. That should also send up a red flags to you that other employees might be feeling the same way. You will need to work on getting some systems in place for whatever weaknesses you see that employee brought to your attention.
Go through that with both employees and then sit back down with them one-on-one and address their concerns. If they don’t know how to get promoted. Or they don’t know if they’re doing a good job in your restaurant. That’s going to create fear inside and they’re going to possibly take it out on another employee.
The second step is at the end of that conversation to let the employee know that you’re going to be on top of this. You’re going to be watching it like a hawk. What I want you to do is give both employees accurate; firm; real-time feedback if you see any of this behaviour happening. Don’t brush it off and don’t say ‘oh we’re working on it’, don’t let it fester for any longer.
If you see bickering between the two of them? I want you to stop it right there and give them both feedback. If you’re in a meeting and one of these employees is doing some training for the rest of the group and the other employee (the ones that hate each other) are in the back and he starts goofing around… Pull them aside as soon as that meeting is over and say, “Hey I noticed that when Steve started talking, you started goofing around. Why is that? What happened there?”
And I want you to ask open-ended questions whenever you’re delivering feedback one-on-one to someone? Explain the behaviour then ask open-ended questions and see what their response is. Those open-ended questions like, “why did you behave that way” let’s them express to you what’s going on.
If needed, get the two of them in an office together with you. And when they’re in the office together, your job is to facilitate the conversation. Not to run the conversation. Not to say this is unacceptable behaviour. Not to say that ‘if guys don’t fix this I’m going to fire both of you”.
That’s not what we’re trying to do here. What we’re trying to do here is to get them to relate as humans to each other. So you want to ask questions like, “when you act this way, how do you think that makes me feel?” or “when you say things like that how do you think that makes Bob feel?”… (Or Erica, or whatever their name is) And then let them use their words. Let them explain what they mean in front of the other person.
I think what you’ll find is that when they’re face-to-face with each other. And when you ask a fair and honest question like that, they’re going to start relating to each other as human beings and that should help you solve your problem.
Again the most important thing to remember here through all of these steps—through any conflict resolution is that…
“If two employees hate each other, or if they’re not getting along it’s always a root stem of fear.”
There is always some form of fear that is causing this to happen. Plus this is going to be great for flexing your leadership muscles. Conflict Resolution is one of the best things you can do to become a great leader in your restaurant.
Remember this is worth it. It’s worth it when you a good employees to get through this. Your job is to manage systems and develop people and this type of conflict resolution is a great way for you to work on your leadership skills and developing your employees.
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