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Conflict Between Supervisor and Manager Makes Employees Confused

March 17th, 2013 | Posted by Nylee Villamor in Articles

I’ve just been regularized and I’m very happy about this because  I like the company I’m working for and the people I’m working with, including our supervisor.  My problem is:  our supervisor and our manager hardly speak to each other.  Our supervisor feels very hurt that our department manager got the promotion to her present position when in fact she, our supervisor, had been made to believe she should have been the one promoted, being more senior and more capable.

Our department manager goes directly to us to ask questions or seek clarification and sometimes gives us tasks to do without going through our supervisor.  Our supervisor resents our manager going directly to us bypassing her.  The problem is we, the rank-and-file, are in a difficult situation.  What should we do?  I am one of those to whom our supervisor complains about our manager going directly to us.  I don’t know how to react to her when she complains about our manager, and to our manager when she comes to me for information or clarification, and especially when she tells me to do some work for her.  Who of them should I follow?  Is this what is called “office politics”?  What shall I do?

Miss Very Confused


I can understand your and your colleagues’ dilemma about the situation you are all in.  You report directly to your immediate supervisor and she is the one who gives you assignments and tasks to do, evaluates and appraises your performance. If your department manager asks for information or clarification from you and you are in a position to give this information, you should do so.  If the manager asks you to do some tasks for her, you have to do them for, after all, she is the manager of the entire department.   But always keep your supervisor informed about her requests.  If your supervisor resents your accommodating the requests of your manager, then ask your supervisor how she would want you to respond in a polite manner, “Ma’am, what should I have done?” you can ask.   I suggest you open up to your supervisor about the difficult situation you are in and ask her what she wants you to do because you are confused.

When your supervisor complains to you about her manager, you can just listen to her, look at her directly in the eye, and just nod your head.  Then you can simply respond with “I understand how you feel, Ma’am”.  It’s obvious that she wants sympathy from you and assurance that you are on her side.  But stay out of the conflict.

When your peers talk against one or another superior, don’t participate, not even listen to them.  Politely excuse yourself.

Yes, this is a form of office politics when people show who has more power than the other and expect their respective employees to take sides.

In empowered organizations, employees work together as a team, setting aside or working out differences openly to achieve common objectives that bring the desired results. Sadly, the conflict between your superiors prevent your department from being empowering and working as a team.

God bless you.


Josie O.  Santamaria is a professional psychologist, certified life coach, a career coach and management consultant.  She is the president of Career Systems, Inc., a management and human resource training and consulting company, operating for the past 30 years.   For more information about her and Career Systems, Inc., log on to www.careersystems.com.ph. She can be reached for advice on work/career issues thru her email address: josantamaria@careersystems.com.ph 

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