Skip to main content

Incompatibility in the Office

Irreconcilable differences are a common reason for divorce, and while there might be jokes around squeezing the toothpaste tube from the top or the bottom, it is a fact that the smallest things become huge issues in an incompatible relationship.  (I have to admit that my husband of 32 years and I solved this one by using different brands).

At work, it is as difficult as at home.  Incompatibility is a rather vague description, because it is not easy to pin down exactly why two people simply do not get the best out of each other.   In a boss /employee scenario, it may have a serious impact on productivity, as well as making one or both extremely unhappy.  A junior person may even feel that he is being bullied.

There is also the possibility that they actually get on well together but their work styles are so different that their deliverables are not being achieved, anyway.

Years ago, I had a Services Manager who was a brilliant trainer of new software field consultants, but in all other areas of his work, he drove the rest of the management team crazy.  He was constantly late for appointments, spent hours remodelling working models without any real objective other than he liked to fiddle, wouldn't recognise a deadline if he fell over it and generally created work for everybody else.  Did we like him?   We really did.   Could we work with him?  We really couldn't.   Are we still friendly?   I meet him for lunch 3 or 4 times a year, and it is such fun.    And he has generously shared where I was incompatible with his style, too!

So, the incompatibility can relate to the job or to colleagues, bosses and direct reports.   How do you establish whether it is incompatibility, incompetence, bad behaviour or just plain old poor performance?

In bigger companies, a simple test is to separate the two and monitor any behavioural and performance changes.   This is obviously very difficult in smaller organisations, but ensuring that the two take leave at separate times should also enable senior management to assess performance differences.

Once you have established that they both work better when separated, conversations need to take place to discuss that their work relationship is creating high levels of entropy.   One of the key negative results of entropy is that it is like throwing a stone in a pond, the initial plop cascades out, in ever enlarging circles.

Ideally, if both are good at their jobs, it would be sensible to permanently separate them.   If this is not possible, there are two ways forward, one or both has to leave, or they need to find a way to make working together possible.   It is very challenging to apply fault if it is a genuine incompatibility and that's where greater good has to be part of the discussions.   It is a harsh principle sometimes, but it has to apply in cases where a negative relationship is seriously encroaching on a division or company's ability to be effective and viable in the market place.

Links and References

Explanations and Notes
  1. entropy
    noun: entropy; plural noun: entropies; symbol: S
    1. 1.
      a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system's thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system.
      "the second law of thermodynamics says that entropy always increases with time"
    2. 2.
      lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.
      "a marketplace where entropy reigns supreme"    Source = Google definitions


    Thank you for reading Teryl@Work.   Should you wish to use any of the material, please acknowledge this blog as the source.

Popular posts from this blog

Resignation - keep building relationships

Resignation – avoid burning those bridges It has been a great pleasure working with a colleague like you. Now, you are off to your next big challenge! Good luck and farewell!
Isn’t that what we all want to hear when we leave?  We were appreciated and we will be missed.
The need for all parties to maintain professional conduct in the event of resignation is critical, particularly now when we are working within an unsettled socio-economic climate. Employees should avoid damaging relationships, and employers need to adopt a neutral approach and ensure that there are policies and processes that enable the separation to be objectively handled.  For example: ·A formal resignation letter is required·A formal acceptance of resignation is issued confirming any special conditions·An exit interview takes place·Handovers are planned and executed
Our HR team advise those who resign their position to adhere to a few golden rules. Failure to do so could harm whatever bonds have been formed at the workpla…

Favourite Words

Shambolic – it simply sounds better to me than chaotic.. Do lots of people have favourite words or just a few of us nerds? As everybody is starting to think holidays (or maybe you prefer to vacation), it seemed a good time for a different type of blog. Have you noticed how many words with pleasant associations sound more attractive than those that describe the negative. Watching a TV quiz show the other night made me wonder. The contestant hated bulbous and gusset! There have always been some words that appeal to me, triskaidekaphobia being one. I now know that I had the meaning wrong! I thought it meant fear of Friday the 13th, but it is simply a fear of the number 13, so how does paraskevidekatriaphobia grab you? That is the real word for fear of Friday the 13th. Love it! Now I prefer rural to bucolic, but Robert Beard (see below) selected the latter as one of his favourites. Effervescent is a gorgeous word, so descriptive and onomatopoeic while ethereal makes me think of gossamer and fairie…

What I learned from the snake queue...

The lesson of the snake queue
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it or Leave well enough alone.  But do we?  Oh no, we are always trying to improve on things, no matter how well they work.
Progress does come from constant improvement, but it needs to be an improvement!
Hence the lesson of the snake queue… I know that life isn’t always fair, I also don’t believe that everything happens for a reason (see below). However, the advent of the snake queue made me feel so happy.  I knew that, once I was in it, I would get served next.  I didn’t have to decide which shopping trolleys in front of me had more items, and pick a line accordingly, I simply joined at the rear and waited my turn. Those stores who have duplicate snakes facing each other do add a small element of stress in terms of which one to select, but I cope quite well with this one if I have my Kindle…. The same at airports, pharmacies and banks, such a fair system. Then, a colleague and I went to the USA and arrived at Washington Airport with…