Work­place fric­tion

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - MONEY & MARKETS EXTRA - By Joyce M. Rosen­berg

When em­ploy­ees don't get along, a busi­ness owner must find out what the is­sue is and try to re­solve it. Even if the boss only hears gos­sip about work­place fric­tion, it's time to in­ter­vene.

Hu­man re­sources con­sul­tants ad­vise own­ers to speak to staffers in a non-con­fronta­tional way to de­ter­mine whether there's a per­son­al­ity clash, a dis­agree­ment about how to get the work done or perhaps fall­out from friend­ship or ro­mance that's ended. In such cases, dis­putes that dis­rupt the work­place may be a per­for­mance is­sue, and em­ploy­ees then need to be re­minded that they're ex­pected to be­have pro­fes­sion­ally or face dis­ci­pline.

If staffers are strug­gling be­cause of per­sonal prob­lems and let­ting their emo­tions spill into the work­place, an owner should con­sider re­fer­ring them to an em­ployee as­sis­tance provider who can pro­vide ther­apy.

But an owner also needs to look fur­ther, and see whether there's some­thing in the com­pany's oper­a­tions or hi­er­ar­chy that's caus­ing or con­tribut­ing to the ac­ri­mony. Are work­loads un­fairly dis­trib­uted? Are prob­lems like tech­nol­ogy break­downs or over­bear­ing cus­tomers rais­ing the frus­tra­tion level? While staffers still need to act in a busi­nesslike man­ner, the owner should ad­dress the un­der­ly­ing is­sues.

Work­place fric­tion can cause prob­lems beyond a loss of pro­duc­tiv­ity. If em­ploy­ees feel they're in a hos­tile work en­vi­ron­ment, they can file a dis­crim­i­na­tion law­suit against the com­pany. That would be a fur­ther dis­rup­tion and run up le­gal bills for a busi­ness.

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