business peepsCongratulations on your move up.  When you are promoted it is because you are very good at what you do. A promotion often brings a wider sphere of responsibility, new skills to learn including the supervision of employees.  It might be easier if you didn’t have to contend with employee conflicts and performance issues, but we know that isn’t realistic.

To amp up the pressure the number one reason employees leave their employer is because of difficulties with their supervisor.  In some cases you might be thinking it would be great if they did leave. Unfortunately, many employees don’t leave even if they are unhappy. There are many reasons they choose to stay; pay and benefits, job security, job market, etc.  These individuals may be disruptive, have poor attendance or low productivity making it difficult for supervisors to juggle employee issues and meet their own production deadlines.

There are no quick fixes, but with a few consistent human resource practices you can make noticeable improvements, in morale, attendance and productivity which in turn will make your job easier.


Employees want to be heard.  Listen to their comments regardless how they are delivered be it anger, sarcasm, frustration or even silence.  Find out the underlying reason for the behaviour. Ask questions, but listen more. Take notes that you can reference later.  Spend time with your employees regardless of how busy you are, Listen to them, it will pay off and you might be surprised at what you learn.  A word of caution; don’t try to immediately fix problems/complaints.  Take the time to fact find and discuss with your supervisor and or others who might be affected, before responding. You don’t want to be in a position of having to reverse a decision.


Employees want to know what’s going on within the business.  There is nothing that isolates someone more than being the last to learn about something that affects them, or even worse to hear it from someone outside of their area.  There will be things as a supervisor you have knowledge of but cannot share, be honest and say so.  However, there are many things that can and should be shared. Make a habit of keeping your employees informed.  

Start conversations, get to know your employees; promote and support their interests by learning about their goals and needs. Develop a working relationship.  It is easier to discuss problems and find resolutions together when you know what their needs and constraints are.


Recognize good behaviours in all employees, especially those that behave poorly.  If you look for that glimmer of something well done, you will find it. When you see it; immediately acknowledge and thank them for their efforts.   Recognize day to day achievements even on days when everything that could go wrong did.  For example, I liked the way you handled that case/file/person/project. Thanks for commenting during the meeting, your ideas helped us reach a decision.

A good working relationship with your employees can go a long way to preventing or alleviating conflicts.  Your efforts over time will be reflected in a healthier and more productive work environment leaving you with more time to focus on your work.


About the Author:

Karen Matthews, CHRP, has extensive experience as a senior manager in Human Resources. She has worked in unionized workplaces at both the municipal and provincial levels.  Her experience includes labour relations, performance and attendance enhancement, policy development, training and dispute resolution.

K Matthews Consulting provides human resource services in the Kingston Ontario area.  Karen can be reached at: