Manager Employee Conflict Resolution

Managing workplace conflict is tricky when the power dynamics are unequal. Perhaps things have gotten so bad that each party sees the other as the ‘enemy’? That’s dangerous thinking. Let’s discuss a more constructive approach to manager and employee conflict resolution.


Leaders and employees may not believe the other understands the pressure they’re under. Their roles and experiences are very different, and each sees a different side of the organisation.


This is why conflict resolution with an employee can be one of the hardest and most strenuous parts of a manager’s role. Leaders often avoid dealing with conflict because they haven’t been trained to do so without adding more fuel to the fire. However, it’s actually an essential part of leadership development; and organisational development, for that matter.



Are colleagues giving you one of those moments?


Is Everything Really ‘Fine’?

Managers may not be privy to moaning in the kitchen or see an employee with their head in their hands at their desk. Employees might make out that everything is fine to a manager because they don’t want to look bad or rock the boat. Problems between leaders and employees often only come forward when everyone is already worked up and overextended.


However, conflict resolution is a leader’s responsibility. Before problems affect engagement, productivity and turnover. After all, unresolved issues will fester into resentment and create a toxic environment that drains everyone of passion for their work and respect for their leader. They’ll make it harder to work as a team and grow. The CBI also estimates that workplace conflict costs UK businesses £33 million per year, taking up 20% of leadership time and wasting up to 370 million working days.




We All React Differently to Stress

At work, you’re dealing with many unique personalities, different goals, and different values. We can all view situations differently and be biased at times.


Miscommunications will happen. But workplace conflict isn’t usually because any boss or employee is pure evil. It’s simply a failure to understand each other. In fact, personality clashes and different styles of working are the most common contributors to workplace conflict. (CIPD, 2015, p.2).[1]


Conflict between a manager and employee happens for any number of reasons, including:


  • Criticism that an employee sees as unfair
  • An unsupportive and unhealthy culture
  • An employee feeling a lack of recognition for hard work
  • A manager not providing enough direction or support
  • An employee frustrated at being micromanaged
  • An employee not performing to desired standards
  • Lacking confidence in each other
  • An employee upset by apparent favouritism




Understanding Triggers and Reactions

Conflict resolution requires us to understand how we react to conflict and why we overextend. Each person needs a clear and unbiased understanding of the other’s personality and preferences. There’s no quick fix to manager and employee conflict resolution but we can build bridges that last a life time.


Our personality test, Lumina Spark helps individuals to become more self-aware and aware of others—a key skill for top leaders and teams. Its three lenses assess your underlying persona, your everyday persona, and your overextended persona. So, firstly, your instinctive way of being, your preferences, and your natural inclinations. Secondly, how you behave day-to-day, and thirdly, who you are when you do too much of a good thing and overplay your natural strengths. People can embrace the dynamics of who they really are and better support their performance improvement.



Ever feel like you’re at a dead end with your colleagues?


Lumina Spark provides a precise language that doesn’t leave any room for misinterpretation or assumptions. Everyone can communicate confidently, with mutual respect, and others’ feelings and needs in mind. We know who we and our colleagues are, and why—so managers can better:


1) Learn to Recognise Red Flags

And take notice of behavioural shifts before they escalate. Managers should invite employees to talk about problems they’re facing. Instead of, “What’s wrong with you?”, Lumina Spark can help leaders to tailor conversations that don’t create defensive barriers, but encourage openness and honesty instead.


2) Get to the Heart of the Issue

Everyone wants to feel heard. Who felt what? Is someone upset because they don’t feel valued or respected? It’s hard to put feelings aside when it’s an emotional issue. Lumina Spark helps us all to understand those feelings instead. To ask the right ‘why’ instead of ‘what’ questions. Objective, open questions, without blame or bias.


3) Respect Differences

There are always multiple sides to every story. Lumina Spark provides individuals with an in-depth report uniquely about them, not just people similar to them. It helps individuals understand their whole dynamic personality, and that of others. To see things from other perspectives and focus on conflict resolution.


4) Focus on the Big Picture

It’s important to understand each other’s expectations and needs. To embrace accountability and forgiveness. We’re all in the same boat and working towards the same organisational goals. Lumina Spark makes it clear how each person is contributing, and why they should be valued.


5) Create a Solution Together

Focus on positive change, not ‘winning’ or ‘losing’. Both parties should feel supported to bring ideas to the table. With Lumina Spark, leaders and employees can see each other’s points of view, so everyone gets what they need.


6) Practise Active Coaching

A shift in mindset or leadership can take time and practise. It’s an ongoing process. Lumina Spark helps with agile learning and mentoring of employees—another important part of leadership development. It provides a personalised reading of an individual’s strengths and potential developmental areas.


The Lumina Splash App – putting your personality and Lumina Spark into the palm of your hand



A personality test like Lumina Spark helps leaders see that every occurrence of workplace conflict represents a unique opportunity for growth, agile learning and leadership development. After all, people are an organisations’ best asset.


Lumina Spark drives sustainable organisational development in performance and profitability, through practical people development at all levels. It gives leaders and employees the tools and understanding to create a culture where everyone feels valued, respected, and powerful.




[1] CBI. (2015). Getting Under the Skin of Workplace Conflict: Tracing the Experience of Employees [Data set]. Retrieved from




See our global network

Lumina Learning is a global network of skilled experts and practitioners operating in more than 40 countries all over the world.

Find your nearest expert

Lumina Learning is a global network of skilled experts and practitioners operating in more than 40 countries all over the world.
Skip to content