These Tips Help to Avoid Conflict Before it Happens

Aug. 27, 2020

The best way to avoid employee conflicts within the shop is to fix that behavior before it boils over. Here are some expert tips to get you started.

Aug. 26, 2020—National Oil and Lube News has offered articles about conflict resolution in the past with tips on how operators and managers can simmer down a heated situation.

As columnist Lenny Saucier put it, friction can destroy engine parts as well as shop relationships. Wouldn't it be better to just avoid those confrontations altogether? 

Jan Fox, expert author, speaker and founder of Fox Talks, offered some tips for operators to identify and sort out potential conflicts before they become more serious.

1. Keep your eyes and ears open.

When operators and managers are closely watching the service processes, they should also be watching the employee interactions. Often, the signs of a potential conflict can be spotted and squashed.

“That’s the No. 1 trick to all of this," Fox says. "Just making sure you’re watching and listening and anticipating. When your’e anticipating, you're planning a strategy in your head.”

When you're planning that strategy that's specific to those employees, then you'll be more ready if something bad happens.

2. Make use of employee talk.

Get involved in a little healthy inter-workplace gossip to get a better feel of employee dynamics. In most operations, a shop leader like a manager or an experienced tech might be a point person for information.

“Those people need to be trained to be on the lookout for who may blow up, who could cause trouble, who could say something inappropriate to cause another to react," Fox says.

3. Describe the behavior in a constructive way.

When it's time to confront an employee who seems to be headed down the wrong path, it's important to describe the behavior going on rather than try to characterize the person. Name-calling isn't going to get you closer to a solution.

“Always talk in terms of specific behaviors that you see or that you feel causes that person to have difficulties,” Fox says.

4. Look deeper.

“The difficulty you see is not always the difficulty they’re having," Fox says.

That means that there's often a deeper problem that's causing an employee to act out. It takes some tact to get to the root of an issue with an employee. Fox says that it's important to engage in casual conversation often. But when there's an issue to address, you can prepare yourself to get at the heart of the issue, eventually.

“Train yourself to do a transition from the informal conversation to something a little more meaningful,” she says.