Managers: Your Employee Disagrees With You, Now What?

In a perfect world, employees and managers would agree on all decisions, delegations, and directions without debate. However, the world we live in is dynamic and your team members have the right to disagree with you. Rather than bemoan the thought that any subordinate would push back against your initiatives, there are ways to embrace disagreements and achieve balance.

It can be difficult to receive differing perspectives. It can feel like an affront or a criticism to your direction or choice. So, when an employee shares their difference of opinion, how do you deal?

You may feel like asserting that it’s your call and leave it at that. However, this could erode the trust between you and your employee and discourage them from sharing. Instead, consider the following options.

Start Here: Will you react passively or actively?


If the issue at hand is timely or pressing, or if the decision was made based on information the employee wasn’t yet privy to – it is important to proceed actively. However, (temporary) passivity may be more applicable to nurture the relationship with the employee and in situations where the situation isn’t demanding. Always pick your “battles” wisely.

If you choose to act…


Choice 1: Assert authority. There are times when an employee’s preference cannot supersede the best interests of the company. If you choose to stand your ground, be prepared to address the disputing employee and educate them providing perspectives your employee may not have been privy to. Assert your points firmly, elaborating where useful. Encourage your employee’s tendency to challenge the status quo and praise them for good points to safeguard the relationship.

Choice 2: Find middle ground. Compromise is a very healthy choice for managers and employees who disagree. Like in any other conflict, it is very likely both parties have valid points and useful ideas. Plan a time to meet, discuss the issue at length, and collaborate or take the reins on this pressing issue – but seek your employee’s counsel on a similar upcoming project or problem. Finding a way to involve and validate your employee is a great way to retain their trust and encourage continued participation and thought.

If you choose to be passive…


Choice 1: Evaporate the issue. If the cause for disagreement is minute it may be strategic to avoid discussion. This is a healthy choice when emotions run high or when the employee feels very strongly and may be unlikely to get their way. It is important, if choosing evaporation, to provide rationale and keep interchange simple so tempers do not flare. Suggest a time to readdress.

Choice 2: Concede.
If the issue is really so unimportant, it may befit the relationship with the employee to go ahead and allow them to proceed as the employee preferred. If choosing this route, keep criticisms at bay and allow results to speak for the proper choice. This option is best chosen when little risk is assessed in the situation. Consciously choose to set aside authority and allow the employee to explore their preference. Plan to revisit after the decision has run its due course.

Disagreements are unavoidable. However, how you handle discord in the office will dictate how you are perceived as a manager and the rapport you keep with your employees. For more advice on how to manage your team and hire the best employees for your organization, come back to our Blog – a resource for all things HR.

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