To begin with, the employeemanager relationship is very important to a company‘s productivity. Additionally, a relationship that is built on perceptiveness and trust can make the employee and manager more skillful. On the other hand, a relationship that lacks strength will diminish productivity and can lead to high rates of employee turnover. Hence, there are several elements that make up a manager and employee relationship. Both parties should keep these points in mind for the relationship to yield. 

Below are some characteristics of unskilled, skilled, and over skilled employees

Unskilled – 

  • Not at ease with their managers. 
  • May be stressed in the manager’s presence. 
  • May not be open to coaching or guidance from managers. 
  • Problems dealing comfortably with management. 
  • Poor manager relationships get in the way of working effectively. 

Skilled – 

  • Reacts and relates well to managers. 
  • Would work harder for a good manager. 
  • Is open to learning from managers who are good coaches and who provide space. 
  • Eager to learn from those who have worked there before. 
  • Easy to challenge and develop. 
  • Is comfortably coachable. 

Overused Skill – 

  • May be too much dependent on managers for advice and suggestions. 
  • Rule out other sources of feedback and learning. 
  • May pick the wrong manager as a role model. 

Causes of Conflicts in Employee-Manager Relationship

Workplace conflicts arise from many causes. Conflicts in employee-manager relationship intensify when both parties cannot see beyond their own points of view. That’s where a mediator comes in to help them find a common ground by taking the time to view the conflict in a more objective way and to consider the other party’s perspective. People are different and there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes conflict occurs because of the personal characteristics of the people. There are an infinite number of reasons why conflict can occur in the workplace, however, a small number of causes are most common.

The causes of conflicts are:

  • Conflicting Resources –Employees’ engagement depend on accessing resources, such as technology, office supplies, and meeting rooms, to perform effectively. Unfortunately, it is not always possible for everyone to access the resources they wish to at all times. If the reason someone cannot access the resources is that someone else is using them then this can lead to conflict. A manager’s job may then be to decide who has the rightful access to the resource and how it will be distributed in the future. 
  • Conflicting Styles – No two individuals will work the same. Different methods of organization, communication, and timekeeping are very common in any organization. This is generally effective as everyone works in their own style. However, when it comes to team tasks this can become a problem as some individuals will have to compromise on how the work is done. A manager can avoid conflict occurring here by selecting teams based on their similarities and strengths. 
  • Conflicting Perceptions – Different perceptions of what the organization’s goals are, the methods used, and who is responsible for what can often lead to conflict. Open and transparent communication is the key to avoiding this happening. 
  • Conflicting Goals – Often different managers will set targets and goals for the same individual and this can often lead to conflicting goals being set. For instance, it is hard to deliver on both speed and quality, and hence setting both these targets may cause issues. The conflict here may be between the individual and one or both managers and between the managers themselves. 

Some other causes of conflicts are:

  • Conflicting Pressures – Conflicting pressures are like conflicting goals, except they usually exist over a shorter space of time. Individuals may be pressured to complete two different tasks by two different managers before the end of the day and this can lead to conflict. 
  • Conflicting Roles – Often employees can be asked to perform a task that they are not usually responsible for. This can cause conflict as either the individual feels the task is not appropriate for them or another individual believed it was for them. Whilst this can be avoided by delegating the same tasks to the same individuals, differentiating your team members’ roles can be a good opportunity for learning and development. 
  • Different Personal Values – Personal values determine the way we behave and the work we produce. Often, individuals will disagree about the actions they should take due to their personal values and this can lead to conflict. As a manager, you can ensure your team members never reach a situation where have to compromise their values. A big gap in skills leads to disrespecting and undervaluing each other. 
  • Unpredictable Policies – Rules and policies are not always communicated across an organization effectively. This can lead to a poor understanding of them and confusion amongst team members. It is important to ensure policies, and particularly their changes, are communicated effectively throughout the organization to avoid conflict like this from occurring. 


Most employees have trouble with their managers. Conflicts help you to see the problem in the work process. Thus, if you successfully resolve it, the overall situation in the workplace improves and productivity will increase also.

  • Drive Down the Rocky Road – The purpose is to manage the difficult relationship, so it leaves behind the least amount of long-term noise for you and the organization. Focus on the key issues and keep your head down. Try to keep your conversations with the manager directed at these key issues.
  • Watch Out for Rumors – Unless the cause is related to a violation of business ethics or integrity, don’t gossip about it with your colleagues. Your manager expects your loyalty and support on issues of work and performance. If he/she gives you a task you view as unfair, it might have been hers in the first place, which is nothing unusual. Reset your priorities and keep your eyes on the goal.
  • Learn to Depersonalize and Be Neutral – Try to separate the person from the manager role he/she is in; try to modify the situation. Someone made her/him manager for a reason and you are never going to please everyone. Reason out why you dislike your manager so much. Do the people who have a favorable impression of your manager share any common interests with you.
  • Try to Learn from The Situation – Try and figure out the part you played in contributing to the rough relationship. What could you have done differently to make the situation more bearable? What will you do next time when you see the first signs of trouble like this? You are responsible for your reactions even if your manager condemns many.

Explore: what new managers need to know about employee engagement

Some other remedies that can enhance employee-manager relationship are:

  • It Could Be You, too – Get some feedback from those you trust about what they think about you. Additionally, realize your real strengths and weaknesses. Also, have a clear understanding of the situation. Get advice about managing and improving the relationship from a trusted person. After all, maybe it’s you as well. Try to find out what drives your manager and do not indulge in unproductive values debates. Avoid using words that set the manager off. 
  • Find Your Triggers – Keep a note of what the manager does to irritate or bother you to make sure that when you are promoted, you won’t be guilty of the same behaviors. Once you know what provokes you, learn to manage these tense transactions better. If your manager gets angry, listen but don’t react at once.
  • Know Your Manager – Try to objectively describe the manager in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Even bad people have strengths. In confidence, get someone else to help you. Try to determine why the manager does what he/she does, even though you may not agree with the logic or wouldn’t do it that way yourself. How would you act in the same circumstance?

In conclusion, a productive and respectful employee-manager relationship is key to any company’s success. A manager’s top priority is likely to have hardworking employees. Hence, he prefers employees who fulfill his vision for the company. Hence, it’s a safe bet that he’d also like to have a trustworthy relationship with the people he works with every day.

Contact us if you are interested in a first time managers training program that is tailored to the needs of your organization or team.