Putting yourself in the position of personnel specialist Janet Baker and develop an approach for Carrie to follow in dealing with the apparently incompatible employees.

The oIl-aNd-waTer employees

Primary Topic—Employee Problems and Problem Employees

Additional Topics—Authority; Communication; Criticism and Discipline; Leadership

Feeling nearly at the end of her rope in dealing with two constantly bickering employ- ees, supervisor Carrie Wilson sought counsel with personnel specialist Janet Baker.

“Janet,” Carrie began, “I truly don’t know what to do about Ellie and Nellie.” Janet responded, “Ellie and Nellie? Sounds like twins.” “Hah! More like bitter enemies. But maybe you’re onto something,” said Carrie.

“They’re about as much alike as some twins I’ve known—they’re both stubborn, uncompromising, and short-tempered.”

Carrie continued, “You know I’ve got a fairly small group. We’re stuck in an extra-small office where we’re always bumping into each other, and anyway we’re really required to work together closely most of the time.”

“So what’s the problem?” asked Janet. “Ellie and Nellie are the problem. Almost totally incompatible. Almost any con-

versation between them quickly degenerates into arguments and name-calling. They essentially do the same job and are forced by circumstances to work side by side most of the day.”

“How good are they at what they do? Any performance problems, either of them?”

Carrie answered, “Both are fairly highly productive, in fact the two best in the group as far as output is concerned. If I had to choose, though, I’d say Nellie is just a bit better. Nearly perfect work records, both of them, at least until I had to start talk- ing to them about their disruptive feuding.”

Janet asked, “How disruptive?” “The tension in the group is becoming unbearable. And although Ellie and Nellie

appear to be keeping up with the work very well, other staff’s productivity is begin- ning to suffer.”

“Where do things stand right now? Today?” Carrie said, “Big blowup this morning.” She released a long sigh and continued,

“I thought someone was going to get her eyes scratched out. Worst of it, though, was the effect on others. One of them, young Lorraine, finally screamed at both of them to shut up and ran bawling from the office. It’s really a mess, Janet, and unless

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you’ve got a better suggestion I’m going back to the department and give them both a strong written warning for misconduct, for actions disruptive to the department’s functioning.”

Instructions:

Putting yourself in the position of personnel specialist Janet Baker and develop an approach for Carrie to follow in dealing with the apparently incompatible employees.

Case 52: The Oil-and-Water Employees      115

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