Answer from Janelle, SHRM-CP, SHRM-PMQ:
Getting employees who don’t like each other to work well together can be challenging, but here are several steps you can take to improve the situation:
Investigate the cause or causes of the conflict. It’s easy to jump to conclusions about what is happening. Speak to the employees involved and try to understand the tension between them. Is it a personality clash, a misunderstanding, or a difference in working style? Once you understand the cause, you can work to address it and find a solution.
Encourage the employees to communicate openly with each other. You may need to facilitate a conversation to help them understand what open communication is like. If your employees are struggling to communicate openly, they may benefit from training in effective communication, including active listening and conflict resolution.
Set clear expectations for behavior and performance, and make sure everyone is on the same page. Create a shared vision for the team and encourage everyone to work towards that common goal. Tell your employees that they don’t need to be friends, but they do need to be able to work together and should be professional in the workplace.
Lead by example. Model open communication and positive conflict resolution with your teams and peers.
Follow up to ensure that the solution is working and that your expectations are being met.
If one or more of your employees continues to not meet your behavioral and performance expectations, it would be appropriate to discipline them, up to and including termination.
This Q&A does not constitute legal advice and does not address state or local law.
Janelle has over 19 years of HR Practitioner experience within the healthcare, logistics, and manufacturing industries. She has worked in HR roles as an HR Manager, HR Generalist, and Sr. Recruiter managing hiring, onboarding, payroll, employee relations, and staffing. Janelle holds certifications from the University of South Florida Muma College of Business and the Society for Human Resource Management.