Colleagues don't have to like each other, but they have to get along

By Marie G. McIntyre

Two of my employees simply don't like each other. Neither one can give me a specific reason, so I assume it must be a personality difference. Unfortunately, their jobs require them to work together on a regular basis.

"Sara" has made an effort to remain professional and communicate in a businesslike manner. However, "Kristen" can't seem to put her negative feelings aside. Her obvious irritability creates tension in the office and makes everyone uncomfortable. What should I do about this?

These touchy employees need to learn that their personal reactions are completely irrelevant. At work, people must get along whether they like each other or not. So your first step is to meet with them together, explain this reality and establish expectations.

After delivering this collective warning, meet with Sara and Kristen separately to discuss their individual situations. With Sara, you can express appreciation for her professional attitude and let her know she's on the right track. But with Kristen, you must firmly set the stage for change.

Start by describing her troublesome behavior and indicate that this must stop immediately. Explain the consequences which will follow if it continues, which could include anything from moving her desk to formal disciplinary action. Finally, schedule regular feedback sessions to review her progress and provide ongoing coaching.

If Kristen shapes up, thank her for making the effort to improve. But if she's unable or unwilling to do so, it might just be time to say goodbye.

Marie G. McIntyre, a workplace coach, is the author of "Secrets to Winning at Office Politics." Send in questions and get free coaching tips at, or follow her on Twitter officecoach.