Do you know what human resources managers and police officers have in common? We both have to deal with people who make phenomonally bad choices on a regular basis.
If you were the police and received a call about a road rage incident that demanded your attention, you'd probably expect the situation to be somewhat dangerous, but the Lawrence, Kansas Police Department found the situation to just be spectacularly stupid.
The most ridiculous call of 2019 (so far)-; Lawrence Police (@LawrenceKS_PD) February 28, 2019
A thread. pic.twitter.com/F2SKHqDdZV
The whole thread is worth reading, but here's a quick rundown: Karen and Chad are in a private parking lot. Karen wants to leave; Chad wants to come in. Their cars are facing each other, and they both refuse to back up.
That's it. That's the road rage.
Two stubborn and stupid people who want to be right more than they want anything else.
So Chad says "I got nowhere to go, I can just stay here all night." But why, Chad? Why don't you just move? Apparently because this is a principle issue, and because 2019. pic.twitter.com/lMCZTHbak8-; Lawrence Police (@LawrenceKS_PD) February 28, 2019
Ok, let's try Karen. Maybe Karen can be reasonable. Karen, could you please just back up so Chad can go? "Nope, I'm not moving. He can move." pic.twitter.com/JK8nArbJrp-; Lawrence Police (@LawrenceKS_PD) February 28, 2019
And so the standoff continues. And here's where the police officers show they truly are Kansas's finest:
First of all, KAREN, we don't have the legal authority to make either one of you move, this is private property. Second of all, grow up. Third of all, we're leaving. Have a good night.-; Lawrence Police (@LawrenceKS_PD) February 28, 2019
That's right: they just leave. They leave Karen and Chad to wait until one of them finally breaks down and backs up.
What HR Can Learn From This
Sometimes you have employees who act very much the same as Karen and Chad. They are in a snit over something that is really of little consequence and they want you to fix it. Somewhere along the line, HR got the job of playground monitor. But businesses aren't typically filled with children and there are only a few areas in which HR should be actively involved and those are when the law is involved. (Sexual harassment, for instance.) Sure, HR can provide coaching and advice to the Karens and Chads of the world, but sometimes we just need to walk away.
This type of argument is not something that requires a schoolmarm tiebreaker. It doesn't require the office mom either. And so, you walk away. You make notes, of course, that both Karen and Chad are not leadership material, but you let them destroy themselves rather than refereeing.
But What if One of them is Right and the Other is Wrong?
What if? What if Chad always does this? Then guaranteed, Chad is a jerk in multiple areas. Guaranteed that this won't be a one-time thing.
Keep an eye on both the Karens and Chads in your office. People who dig in on stupid things are probably bullying people in many areas. You don't want a situation where Karen is always expected to back down to Chad's ridiculous demands, or vice versa.
This type of stubborn inability to compromise is a sign of more serious problems, for sure. So, look out for this type of behavior and work to coach it out. But at the moment, if two people are being stupid together, walk away.