6 Common Reasons for Conflict Between Two Employees

In most if not all types of businesses, the work environment is a place where a mix of people interact that come from different backgrounds and different life experiences. It is not surprising that disagreements happen from time to time, or that some of them escalate to a point where management has to get involved. Here are some common reasons for conflict between two employees.

Different Work Styles

When two employees are expected to work together on a project, conflict can erupt if they have different work styles. For example, a person that works hard to complete a task as quickly as possible would have difficulty working with someone who waits until a deadline looms. An individual who likes to be focused while working would have a hard time working with someone who is very laid back and wants to chat a lot.

Unclear Job Expectations

Poor leadership can lead to unclear job expectations. When employees do not know exactly who is responsible for what, they may both expect the other to complete certain tasks. At the last minute when they both discover that no one has completed a task, each may blame the other. Unclear job expectations may also lead to two employees working on the same thing without realizing it.

Limited Resources

One of the most common reasons for conflict between two employees is limited resources. Whether this is caused by not having adequate staff to handle all that needs to be done or inadequate supplies for all employees, when staff members have to struggle to get by on limited resources, the stress level increases and conflict is likely.

Resistance to Change

In every workplace, change happens. There may be small changes such as different working hours or a change in location, or there can be big changes such as a merger or acquisition. A new boss can disrupt the routine that the staff is used to, or if one staff member gets a promotion that others were interested in, others may resist the changes that go along with that.

Personality Differences

Personality differences can happen for many reasons. Conflicts related to personality differences are often related to age, gender or different life experiences such as socioeconomic status. An employee who can’t seem to get along with another employee may have an unconscious bias related to race, ethnicity, religion or other reasons.


Disputes are often triggered by miscommunication. When a misunderstanding happens, employees may be reacting to something they thought someone else said or did, which may not even be true. Misunderstanding the choice of words of a coworker can set off conflict.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Some conflicts between two employees are minor and can be worked out between them in a short amount of time. If disagreements and disputes start to intensify, other people may be affected. People who work nearby may be distracted and not as productive. Conflict that’s allowed to spiral out of control can create a tense work environment, which may lead to absenteeism or staff turnover.

When it is clear conflicts between employees are getting worse and not better, this type of conflict has to be addressed. Schedule a private meeting with those in conflict to get to the root of the problem and work on finding a solution. Look for common ground and brainstorm possible solutions that both can live with. Get help from HR or an outside conflict resolution service so that a peaceful work environment can be reestablished as soon as possible. If team leaders use tools, such as a Pay Stub generator, they can analyze the amount and quality of each employee’s work; therefore, accountability will be stronger. These are just a few ideas to create clarity, transparency, and accountability toward peace.

Reach out to Pollack Peacebuilding Solutions for conflict resolution services or training options.

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Valerie Dansereau

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