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Submitted by serpah on


I am currently managing one direct (let's call Anne), who is feeling targeted by another direct (let's call Helen), on a team we work closely with. Anne approached me to say that she was feeling targeted by Helen.

Anne's story: Helen asked Anne a clarifying question and hung up abruptly after the conversation. A couple days later, Anne saw Helen in the office bathroom, told Helen she felt disresepcted by this behaviour and Helen responded by opening the door and yelling at her. Anne said that she heard from others in the company that Helen was talking about her after this interaction and she felt targeted. 

I spoke with Helen's manager about this (let's call him Mike), who then talked to Helen. 

Helen's story: Anne yelled at her in the bathroom and she was only trying to leave. 

Now Mike and I are wondering how to handle this - both Helen and Anne have to work together regularly and they are each feeling targeted by the other. It seems counter-productive to ask them to route all questions through me and Mike. 

Any advice?

shellandflame's picture

But seriously, a face to face may be the best way.  You and Mike sit with Anne and Helen in a room together.  You lay out that their behavior is neither acceptable nor professional.  The both of them need to discuss what happened, using "I feel/felt" statments, and come to a resolution that doesn't involve continued management intervention.  Let them know that when the discussion is over, you don't want to have to get involved with this again.

You may want to also bring HR into the fold as an infomed party as well so they know of the issue as there may be specific guidance your company has.

serpah's picture
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Love that title - Thunderdome!

I spoke with Anne and told her that Helen is feeling targeted,

Anne told me that when Helen first started at the company around 4 months after she did, Helen was constantly messaging and approaching Anne despite Anne's indications that she wasn't available. I was on leave at the time; there was an incident that was escalated up to Mike. Mike asked them to have a walk and work things out themselves. SInce then, Helen has continued approaching Anne personally to gripe about work, life, etc. even thogh Anne is not interested. After Christmas, Helen stopped approaching Anne. But then this bathroom incident happened and Anne feels like Helen has boundary issues. Anne suggested that Mike talk to Helen about professional boundaries. Anne's also said that others have felt targeted by Helen but doesn't want to point fingers. 

Of course all of this is hearsay through different parties...I suppose we could look into chat histories on the company servers. 

It seems long-standing and more extreme than first inicated.

I plan to talk to Mike about this and propose discussing the situation with HR. 

SHP's picture
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I'd look for patterns.  My "Anne" was a good performer and had great relationships throughout the office.  My "Helen" was also a good performer, but had a history of strained relationships with others.  "Helen" was managed out of the organization.

I'll never know for sure if Anne or Helen was at fault in that one particular instance, but I am at peace with my decision.  I don't have time for high school drama.

serpah's picture
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Thanks for your tip about patterns. It does have that familiar stink of high school drama. Anne wanted to handle things on her own; clearly it didn't work. 

One pattern is seeing any abruptness as disrespect. Another is boundaries (Anne has issues with that too).