Situation: A company has two key managers who battle constantly. Recently these battles have escalated. Both people are valuable, but this has become a significant distraction. What’s the best way to handle this situation? How do you deal with management infighting?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Talk to the two people individually. Acknowledge company awareness of the situation and ask what’s going on.
- Listen – make sure you understand what’s going on.
- After you listen, coach. The message: I need you to step up. The company counts on you.
- Both parties must feel empowered by the conversation.
- Focus on behavior only, not the person.
- Make sure that each feels validated but with clear direction to change behavior.
- Acknowledge each individual’s value. Point out the problem, but make it clear that nobody is indispensable.
- At the same time, be firm as to what is expected of individual behavior as well as individual performance. Set the expectation: either you act in a way which does not harm the company environment, or I will take your notice in 30 days.
- If either individual can’t agree to this, then that individual is the problem.
- Revert to guiding principles and values of the company. Raise the conversation to a higher level.
- Establish what the individual wants from the company. Are their needs currently being met? What can be changed to better meet their needs?
- An important end point of the conversation – because both are key players – is for each of them to value the other.
- If, after providing time for the two to resolve their difference, they still can’t make peace with each other, you may have to make a hard decision.
- Be careful – it may be necessary to take a different approach with each individual.
- It may turn out that one individual is the instigator and the other is simply reacting to the first’s provocation. In this case, get a 3rd party to coach each of them.
- Another company recently had this same problem.
- The CEO sat each person down – talked about impact, big picture and what this does to their image in company.
- This worked!