Employees encroaching each other’s territory

Sacha Arnoud

Senior Director of Engineering at Lyft



At my company, there was an open conflict between two people in different teams. Their conflict came from the fact that they were both trying to solve a problem, and each person believed that the other one was encroaching on their territory. Their relationship was becoming more and more emotional and was damaging the whole team's motivation.

Actions taken

I decided that I had to intervene and organized a one-on-one with each of them, independently. I listened to both of their stories and tried to figure out what the one thing that they really cared about was. I came to the conclusion that while they had the perception that they were competing on the same project, their aspirations were actually different and complementary.

"Their aspirations were actually different and complementary."

I, therefore, explained to each of them what was motivating the other one, the way the other person was thinking, and how they could actually help each other. Finally, I organized a meeting with the three of us to discuss the problem. This turned out to be positive and, over time, they managed to help each other, leading to a better outcome than either of them could have reached independently.

Lessons learned

I learned that when it comes to problems of staff believing someone is encroaching on their territory, the best way to solve the problem as a manager is first, to define a bigger task and show it to the arguing staff members. Argue that the task is so vast that each of them needs the help of the other to accomplish it.

"The best way to solve the problem as a manager is to define a bigger task and show it to the arguing staff members."

Secondly, help each employee think about what motivates them. Most of the time, people are not driven by the same parts of a project, and this can open up ways to define what they should work on, in a way that suits everyone.

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Sacha Arnoud

Senior Director of Engineering at Lyft

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