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.