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How to Get Your Employees to Stop Bickering and Start Working

Entrepreneurs offer tips on managing big personalities in a small business.
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Employee management has its tense and sensitive moments. How do entrepreneurs manage and resolve personality clashes among their staff? We asked members of the Entrepreneurs' Organization to provide tips on how to manage delicate situations between employees.

Enhance comfort and respect.

"I help create comfort by giving everyone his or her own office/cubicle. We no longer work in an open office space because it's too distracting and it lacked privacy, and this gives people a sense of security. In addition to my focus on comfort, respect is huge. If an employee is intentionally disrespectful to a co-worker, client, or vendor, they are immediately let go, regardless of talent. By increasing comfort and respect levels, we've seen a quantum leap in productivity."

--Steve Gatena, CEO, Rep Interactive; EO Los Angeles

Revisit the company's core values.

"Recently, I brought in a new art director and creative director, who each manage a department. With high-level hires come high-level personalities, and soon the two began to bicker. I found that the most efficient way to resolve the conflict was to document our core values and revisit them regularly. One of the values gives clear parameters on conflict resolution. The core values are written in the company handbook, but I make sure they are talked about regularly to avoid any confusion."

--Mike Stratta, managing partner, LimeGreen; EO Chicago

Clear the air.

"I decided to implement an employee developmental report to see what personality types everyone has, most favorable work environments, personality strengths, etc. And I took my team offsite for an entire day and we talked about all of our differences. We laughed about why we butt heads, but also really gained understanding and appreciation for one another. We now do this for every new employee so we know how to work better together."

--April Cleek, president and CEO, EHR Concepts; EO Atlanta

Change how employees communicate.

"I find that alternative forms of interaction can often help encourage employees to find better ways of working together. We experienced a personality clash between two employees who work together daily. Just when the situation seemed hopeless, I changed how they interact. I proposed they work more through e-mail and instant messaging. They started working much more productively, and even went back to talking face to face without any animosity!"

--Vladimir Gendelman, founder and CEO, Company Folders Inc.; EO Detroit

Start at the hiring process.

"Managing employee personalities starts during the interview process. If I feel potential employees are a good fit for our company and our culture, I have them take the Sally Hogshead fascination test to identify their archetypes and any potential challenges. If two employees have an issue with each other, we will call a brief meeting to remind them "who" they are, what their archetypes are, and that they are basically hardwired this way. After two years of using this test, I have been able to strategically hire and cultivate the right balance of teams."

--Elliot Holt, CEO, Medi-Copy Services; EO Nashville

IMAGE: Courtesy AMC
Last updated: May 8, 2014




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