Work It Out Amongst Yourselves


As a leader, it is common to have people come to you complaining about how someone else isn’t doing a good job.  By shedding light on someone else’s faults, it is perceived that the faults of the finger pointer will be less noticeable.   Even more common is the finger pointing when the person feels victimized or as if the other person’s actions or lack of actions has affected someone else in a negative way.

I have people that attempt to come to me, what seems like every day, to inform me about how the actions or lack thereof has affected them in a negative action.  I know what they want me to do.  They want me to scold the other person for the wrong they’ve done, but they want me to do it without that person to know they had an accuser.

I’ve discovered that’s not the best course of action.  The accuser is always brought to light, one way or the other.  When you go the course of trying to protect the accuser, you almost have to hide something and mislead the wrong doer of how you received the information in the first place.

So in essence, you have to be unethical to bring to light the behavior of someone who is doing something unethical.  This is a tangled web to say the least!  Not only will this cause trust issues, it will cause people to believe you, as the leader, are easy to manipulate.

I’ve worked out a method to this madness.  I call it the “Work It Out Among Yourselves Method.”  When someone brings me an accusation of a complaint (some may even call it tattling), I tell them to get with the other person and work it out.  If they can’t come to a happy middle ground then bring it to me and I’ll make a decision.  I tell them that I will be happy to work it out FOR them, but they are adults and I expect them to handle the situation themselves.

This not only shapes character among your group, but it also builds trust.  They know because you refuse to talk about another employee WITH them, that you will never talk to another employee ABOUT them.

As a leader, the next time two or more have an issue with each other, encourage them to work it out among themselves and let you know how they did it.  Be sure to follow up.

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12 thoughts on “Work It Out Amongst Yourselves

  1. Great quote and post Cranston, directly to the point!

  2. Thanks Tina. That means a lot.

  3. Jamie says:

    Love this post! It immediately reminded me of a long ago parenting moment. When my boys were in the backseat arguing over a toy I would calmly have them hand it to me. They knew they could have it back once they have figured out a fair way to share it. Worked every time!

    • “Long ago parenting moment”? From your profile picture, I wouldn’t imagine you’d even be old enough to have children. ; ) You make a great point. That’s a great way to paint a picture that everyone can relate to.

      • Jamie says:

        Thanks, Cranston, you’ve made my day! That profile picture is a year old and my sons are now 35 and 33…you can do the math!

  4. sammy says:

    This is a great post.My Wife and I have used this in our marriage,and works very well.We never tell our families our problems.We do as You say”work it out amongst ourselves.”

  5. Ian Munro says:

    There’s a little extension to this philosophy that I use (that you have also hinted at above). It is “work it out for yourselves. If you can’t I’ll work it out for you AND YOU MIGHT NOT LIKE WHAT I DECIDE AS MUCH.”

  6. mylesmacbean says:

    Yes Ian I have always said something similar: If you come to me looking for a decision be warned, you might get one, and you might not like the answer. With a new team the cultural change seems to happen quickly 😉

  7. daniheart21 says:

    Sadly, some people are not adults. sighs…lol

  8. joshsherin says:

    I love this post, and I don’t mind people whining or complaining about each other so much as long as they own up to their opinion. I worked at a place that had an “Anonymous” complaint box in which you could write down your random complaints without having to be accountable of your opinion, what a waste. If you’re going to complain, complain, but please stand up for your own views and opinions.

  9. You know its funny you say that. I was big into playing slow pitch softball a few years ago. There was a message board that was full of whining, complaining, calling people out, and stirring up trouble. Its funny because they would all post under an anonymous name. When they started making people register before they post the message board quickly dried up and died. Unfortunately I feel it really hurt the game as a whole.

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