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Question: About 18 months ago I hired a new sales engineer to work in our department with three others. He came to us with about 3-1/2 years of experience and a lot of get-up-and-go. He’s about 27, a college graduate, and smart as a whip. However, since he’s been with us, he’s also alienated his three colleagues with his hardcharging ways. One employee in particular is having a hard time with him. This employee is a 20-year veteran and the exact opposite of my younger employee - he’s conservative, quiet, slow, cautious, etc. Here’s the crux of the problem - the older employee just found out that I’m paying him less than the younger employee. The two of them aren’t talking to one another - they just do their work, even if it means working around each other. And they’re not talking with me very much, either. I’m afraid I could lose both of them if things don’t get turned around. I need some help sorting through what my options are to solve this problem.

Answer: At the risk of stating the obvious, this is a difficult situation. There are a couple of observations I’d like to offer before I address solution strategies. First, your younger employee seems to fit the general pattern of what we are seeing with today’s younger employees. They are eager, savvy, and self-directed. While those can be positive assets, they also can sometimes be a source of friction with older, seasoned employees who may believe in the adage “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

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Daniel A. Schroeder, Ph.D. is president of Brookfield based Organization Development Consultants Inc. ( He can be reached at 262-827-1901 or Read More »

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