Actions by Managers That Create Workplace Conflict

Poor management can cause conflict in the workplace.
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Conflict at work is unavoidable. It can be an issue as minor as whose turn it is to make the coffee or as major as bullying, favoritism and backstabbing. It is the manager’s job to resolve conflict rather than perpetuate it, according to a February 2012 article at, but not all managers have gotten the message. Instead of extinguishing fires, some are actually fanning the flames.

Unhealthy Rivalry

    Sibling rivalry isn’t limited to children – work “siblings” can be just as jealous of what they perceive to be benefits they should have received but have been diverted to another sib. A manager who always gives the juicy plum assignments to one employee while handing out the rotten fruit to others, creates resentment among co-workers. Even when Little Jack Horner does a great job with the plums and is clearly talented, the manager winds up with a team with only one star. If Jack decides to go elsewhere, the team's productivity likely will suffer.

Lack of Communication

    Managers who fail to keep their employees in the loop can create a disastrous situation. When the boss tells you to do XYZ on a project but neglects to tell you the assignment is due next Monday, she’s setting you up for failure. It's natural to feel resentful in such situations. Unfortunately, a uncommunicative manager is creating problems for herself as well. Those unfinished projects will probably leave her scrambling to appease her boss, who expected them done correctly and on time. An unhappy boss may even decide to hand her a pink slip.

Inappropriate Behavior

    Some employees wage emotional war on their peers. They may sabotage another employee's work or direct an angry tirade or a stream of emotional abuse at a person they dislike. A manager who ignores the problem is failing to fulfill his duties. While the manager cannot be expected to control personality quirks, bullying and emotional abuse cannot be permitted. Not surprisingly, the abused employees lose respect for a manager who fails to enforce proper behavior.

Leadership Problems

    If you have a manager with a leadership problem, you deserve sympathy -- and you might want to look for a new job. Inadequate leadership behaviors such as passing the buck, being inconsistent or refusing to take responsibility can create all sorts of problems. The inconsistent leader who spins like a weather vane with every passing wind leaves her employees trying to second-guess her instead of actually getting work done. Employees who know their boss won’t go to bat for them are quite understandably reluctant to take risks in their work and may resist or ignore her orders.

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