istock_000005408863xsmallLast week, I was called in to help with mediation in a home care situation. In this case, the caregivers are on the payroll of the family. It is an intense and emotional situation as the quality of service provided directly affects the quality of life of the person receiving the care. The mother’s son is the neophyte boss, never having to manage others throughout his career. The frantic call came while I was out of town, one of the part-time care giving aids had just tendered their resignation.

It’s taken a long time for the boss to find employees he is comfortable with in his home caring for his mother 24/7. Throughout the process of trying out employees, one has taken a predominate role; working full time. She dotes and adores his mother, providing her with companionship his mother cherishes. He sees it, feels it, likes it, and consequently, puts her up on a peddle stool. And the other part-timers have seen it, felt it and don’t like it.

He’s in a quandary. This is not the first time conflict has arisen from the ranks. In each instance, there is a common denominator involving the full time person. When aids have left in the past, he accepts their departure gracefully and thankfully (often viewing them as replaceable) or he manages to smooth things out. The full time aid always comes out unscathed and supported. This time it is different. The person leaving is someone he values. He has somehow missed a clear signal of their dissatisfaction; losing an opportunity to recover the situation.

The employee leaving agrees to talk with me. She is articulate in her rationale. Her primary interest is the proper care of his mother. She believes her ability to provide care is compromised by the lack of communication and team work with one of the aids. She does not want to introduce additional conflict into the household and believes her departure will keep the peace. Her compassion and is evident, she is proud of her special relationship with his mother, though sometimes feels others are not as supportive. Through the last several weeks, she has dropped hints of dissatisfaction. She wants to be able to visit his mother, but is deeply concerned that the boss is mad at her. I tell her it’s OK for him to mad at himself –  I know he is not mad at her. People only change when the thought of not changing is a produces greater pain than the change itself.

The boss has a bit to think about.