Avoidance Leads to Trouble

Beverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

We have three partners in our firm who are as different as people can be. It works well because they share responsibilities for clients and managing employees but divvy up the running of the firm. We know who has expertise in which area and who to go to when we need something.

The problem is when they disagree on staffing issues. Recently we had a conversation about whether we should start returning to the office three to five people at a time. Most of us were comfortable doing this with restrictions and a process. One partner was adamantly against the idea, and the other two were supportive. In the team meeting, the decision got made to return – with these rules in place.

The dissenting partner has been telling everyone “the real facts” and the costs associated with us returning, and that one of the partners is having trouble at home and the reason he is behind a return is that he wants to get away from his spouse and kids! The disagreeing partner claims he shared this information with the other partners (the costs, not the personal stuff) and that no one listened.

Now he is acting as if we all did something wrong because we supported the idea. I don’t think any of us care much – we can work virtually if need be. Or if they think it is important for us to be in the office and get some normalcy in place, we are willing to do this too. The team feels like we were set up. The partners weren’t truthful with each other, so they bring something to us as if we are the decision-makers. But we’re not because they already had their agendas before the meeting even started.

I don’t think it is right for them to avoid dealing with each other and then make us the problem. Could we have handled this differently?