Embrace vulnerability in the workplace and grow with your employees and co-workers

March 31, 2022
Stepping out of our comfort zone and being uncomfortable allows real change to happen

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We are moving right along in 2022, and 2021 is a distant memory in our rearview mirror. Still, I find we are dealing with a lot of the same issues now as we were then within our industry. How can we move forward in a positive direction?

In my role in the industry, I hear a lot about different tactics and ideas on what needs to be done. What is right and wrong is not the focus of this article, though. In many of my articles, I talk often about the need for complete, safe, quality, and certified repairs. I would like to switch the narrative and instead talk about a concept that may be foreign to a lot of us but can contribute to a better collision repair industry, and that is vulnerability.

You may be questioning what vulnerability means, and how it would apply within an industry. The definition of “vulnerable” is being susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. Do I have you thinking, 'Patrick, you must be crazy. I am not opening myself up to attack at my workplace'? Workplace vulnerability is about being genuine and open but not baring your soul to everyone and boring them with every detail of your personal life. What I am proposing is that you learn to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.  

Vulnerability is often perceived as weakness, but it really isn’t. Vulnerability is really courageousness. Practicing vulnerability in our industry and at work builds better professional relationships.

We can admit when we are wrong, need help, or feel overwhelmed. It allows us to work together and have empathy for one another. It helps us connect with each other. I want to point out this is especially important for the leaders in our industry.

If the people who support them do not witness their vulnerability at times, they may not be as willing to work. No one likes the boss who holds themselves on a pedestal, barks orders, and seems untouchable. We all would rather have a superior who is relatable, admits their faults, and grows from those under them.

We all want a vulnerable leader. Our industry needs to be vulnerable, too. When you open yourself up to co-workers and peers, it allows for ideas to flow and change is more likely to happen.

Stepping out of our comfort zone and being uncomfortable allows real change to happen. Managers, do you know who will have the next innovative idea to make the repair process go smoother in your shop? It may be your porter who observes the on goings of your shop each day from a distance. If this individual feels he cannot be vulnerable in his environment, then you will never know.

Create an environment of vulnerability by example. I bet you will see an improvement in the workplace.

Lastly, vulnerability is especially important between you and your customers. We are in a business that is built on just this. A vehicle collision is an extremely vulnerable time. Be kind and let them know they are being taken care of. Communicate with them in a way that they feel like they matter.  

Life is full of challenges; this is how we learn and grow. With industry vulnerability, we will grow together with our teams, employees, co-workers, vendors, and others. Vulnerability in the workplace will help us grow as an industry.

Are you willing to be genuine and open? 

About the Author

Patrick Porter | Associate Manager, Collision and Technical Compliance

Patrick Porter is associate manager of Collision and Technical Compliance at OEConnection (OEC). Before that, he was a third-generation shop owner/manager at Porter's Body Shop in Brookhaven, Miss., with the one goal of consumer safety. Porter is an I-CAR instructor and has obtained his AMi Accredited Automotive Management Certificate and AMI’s new Accredited Collision Repair Estimator Certificate. He has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Belhaven University and an MBA from the University of Phoenix.

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