Conflict in the Workplace
Those of you that know me well, know that I read…a lot. From time to time, I like to share what books I’m reading and what I’m learning from them. I get approached by lots of Service Managers, Technicians and Mechanics looking for advice about learning more about leadership and I like to give them any thoughts I can offer. It’s fun to chat with like minded individuals
I’m currently reading “Death by Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni. If you’ve never read Patrick’s books and are interested in leadership, I highly recommend giving it a shot. I’m almost finished with it as it’s a quick read but one of the points made in the book is about the need for free thoughts and “mining” for conflicting opinions during a meeting. For me, this is terrifying as I’m not overly great with conflict but I can completely see why it’s vital to a meeting.
In any setting, it’s easy to sit on your hands and not voice your opinion to avoid confrontation but this book dives into why that’s not healthy. It makes for boring meetings and everybody having the same opinion, whether that’s the case or not.
What hit home with me is that when you put smart people at a table together, there are inevitably going to be differing opinions…and that’s a GREAT thing! That’s why you hire smart people in the first place. You’re not going to get any positive results if your staff is burying their heads in the sand because they’ve been beaten down so often.
I think this is even more important in our industry. Much of the time, front line workers (the ones doing the revenue generating work) often have great ideas that go dismissed. From creating a tool that saves two hours on a common job to the way flow works in a shop, Mechanics and Techs can have great ideas. Too often, ego stops us from listening to these people because we think our way is better.
My advice is to listen to these people as they have incredible insight as to what can improve your business. This is something that I need to do a better job of and it’s funny that a book on how to conduct a meeting is what reminded me of this.
If you’ve got an example of a time that productive conflict helped solve a problem, I’d love to hear about it! It can be uncomfortable but can also be super productive!