How to Resolve Conflict Between Supervisor and Employee

Published: October 8, 2021 | Last Updated: April 26, 2024by Vanessa Rose

Workplace conflict is inevitable. But peer-to-peer conflict is a bit easier to navigate and overcome than conflict that extends beyond power dynamics in the office. When a boss is in conflict with their employees, turnover, morale, trust, and productivity can take much bigger hits than they may during other types of conflict. This is especially true if the conflict is chronic or happening with multiple employees. Learning how to resolve conflict between supervisor and employee is critical in ensuring these issues don’t create long-term problems in your organization.

How to Resolve Conflict Between Supervisor and Employee

Managing a workplace is challenging and leaders and employees don’t always see eye-to-eye. But if intentions, goals, and overall engagement with the job are varying so extensively that conflict exists between levels of power, issues should be addressed sooner rather than later. Here are some ways to begin learning how to resolve conflict between supervisor and employee:

Manage Your Emotional Reactivity

Before you can manage any conflict situation, you have to ensure your emotional reactivity is in check. Conflict cannot be managed if emotions are behind the wheel, and that’s especially true if you’re involved in the conflict as things will inevitably feel personal. Ensure you have a good handle on your triggers, your emotional wounds, and how you can cope through them to respond in ways that keep the conversation moving toward solutions rather than escalated arguments. Ensure you have an effective way to respond to communication and possible misunderstandings in the workplace. That is the only way to begin learning how to resolve conflict between supervisor and employee.

Receive Feedback Objectively

It can be challenging to hear what you’re doing wrong, but as a manager, it’s important to understand the impact you have on your team. Whether your intentions are in line with the stated impact or not, what your employees are expressing is important to hear and not argue with. So in order to manage problem-solving mediation, learn how to take in feedback and try to observe yourself objectively so that you can give them a different experience which may reduce overall stress, tension, and conflict in the workplace.

Known When a Third Party is Needed

Knowing how to handle employee conflict on your own is challenging if you’re included in the conflict. If you feel that you need to defend yourself all of the time, it can be difficult to remain objective. To help with this, know when it’s time to bring in a third party which could include another unbiased manager, a member of HR, or most ideally, a neutral conflict coach who has no ties to anyone in the company and can remain entirely on the outside of the judgments and emotions at hand. However, if you have a severe issue, you may need to speak with a professional lawyer specialized in the sphere, such as an employment attorney or, in some cases, an attorney for personal injuries in NYC or in your local area.

Handling conflict in the workplace well is important, especially if the issues transcend leadership levels. Allow neutral third parties to support your team back to a healthy operating place so everyone can get back to business. Contact Pollack Peacebuilding Systems today to get the right solutions for your team.

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Vanessa Rose

Vanessa is a licensed psychotherapist and writer living in Los Angeles. When not on a mission for inner peace and conflict resolution, she enjoys making art, visiting the beach, and taking dog portraits. Always curious about self-improvement and emotional expansion, Vanessa also manages her own website which explores the unconscious and archetypal influences on how we eat, express, and relate.