[b]BLUF:[/b] Anything special you'd do when dealing with two employee's conflicting when you are remote and don't actually observe it? I feel somewhat blind and am following a path that they must learn to get along and only bring me behavior issues. Would you take a pulse of the rest of the team? My instincts say no unless they bring it up.
Unless they call me with an issue between them (which is almost every other day), I do not call to check up or ask others on the team to do so. But previously I was denied a promotion specifically because I was told that my personality profile said I didn't deal with conflict even though I thought I had handled most well even though it's not my strength by any means! So, I'm second guessing myself. My instinct says to stay this course.
I have a person in a more senior role running being the lead on a product with a person who just came back from a year leave. I have been told by my boss, HR and others I trust that there was a lot of conflict around the person who was on leave. This person was moved around because of job issues but allowed to stay though others recommended otherwise due to difficulties in Canadian law. My boss said multiple people on the team complained about a month before the person came back from leave. (This was before I was the manager of the group.)
Now I have had the lead giving me almost daily complaints on the other employee. The lead keeps bringing up past performance, saying that the other employee does not do the work (which doesn't seem to be the case so far), saying that another team member left due to the other employee - which I now cut off and say that was the past and I am dealing with the present. The lead says that the other employee always manages to stay by basically kissing up to the manager. I cut this off again saying that it is performance that everyone will be measured on. The other employee has made a few mistakes and I'm coaching on those. The lead wants more responsibility and I'm trying to coach the lead on the fact that you have to give specific requirements, learn to supervise a variety of people, have expectations but be fair, elements of Crucial Conversations, etc. I'm coaching the other employee on communicating better, meeting expectations, making sure to listen well to understand requirements before cutting the other person off saying you understand when you may not, etc.
I have another senior person in that location who was a former manager who is trying to help be my eyes and ears. Both of them seem to go to him to vent. He & I agree on focusing on the behavior and not talking about past history. But both of us are starting to feel worn down by this. I also wonder about the rest of the team there. They are very quiet - high "C"s. The lead says they all want the other person gone but no one else has said anything to me. I've only known them for a month. I don't want to let this drag down the team because we already have a number of other issues like reorganization, product consolidation - so stress is pretty high already.