Conflict is inevitable. Every individual that works in —and outside of—your dealership has thoughts and opinions that were shaped by their life experience. Since everyone has a different perspective on the world around them, there are bound to be clashes.
If handled correctly, conflict can be a healthy way for employees and customers to express themselves and drive process improvements. Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t always know how to deal with disagreements. As a result, unresolved conflict can lead to a toxic work environment, as well as a decrease in morale and productivity.
So, how can you help your employees, team members, and even customers move through conflict in a healthy way? Take a look at these four common workplace conflict scenarios and how you can help everyone overcome them.
Leadership Style Conflict
Your employees may be working with a variety of managers and team leaders throughout the day. This can be a good thing, as everyone has an opportunity to work with someone new. However, this scenario can quickly bring about disagreements and confusion. For example, you may have a manager that takes a subtler approach to leadership. They encourage employees to share their ideas and embrace creativity. On the other hand, your employees could also work with another manager that is authoritarian, and not open to hearing the opinions of others. How do you handle this?
Solution: Ultimately, you want a healthy work environment where everyone feels comfortable being themselves. However, you also want some uniformity. So, be sure all managers and anyone in leadership understand your dealership’s core values and principles. Let leaders know that these concepts should drive how they interact with employees as well as customers.
Work Style Clashes
Everyone has their own way of getting work done. This idea is to be expected as differing personalities can lead to a diversity of working styles. Unfortunately, these differences can also lead to constant conflict. For example, let’s say that two employees are working together on a project or daily task.
One desires continuous communication to ensure they are on the right path. The other does not see the need to regularly check-in, as they may see it as a work hindrance. As a result, the latter employee completes work without checking in with the former. This act causes both to argue regularly and even threaten to not work with one another further. What do you do?
Solution: A way to ease this conflict is to help the employees understand that they are not directly trying to hinder one another. Instead, it should be expressed to them that they are experiencing a difference in work and communication style. They have likely attached personal feelings to the matter, but it is essential to help them understand that each one of them is not out to get the other. From there, they can work together to come to a compromise to meet the other’s needs.
Customers can quickly become dissatisfied with your services for a variety of reasons. They may feel that a salesperson is too pushy, that the negotiation process is tedious, or that they did not receive favorable pricing on a vehicle. The conflicts and disagreements that could occur are endless. However, you have to deal with the public daily, so how can you equip your employees to handle customer conflict in a way that not only helps the customer but also makes your dealership come out on top?
Solution: While each scenario will require a unique approach, there are a few things employees can do to create a more favorable situation. First, all employees should be encouraged to diffuse the situation. No one should ever try to match a customer’s behavior or tone. Second, all employees should be trained on the dealership’s overarching principles and values.
This tactic ensures that while everyone may approach a situation differently, employees are adhering to the dealership’s policies and principles, and can reference them if necessary. Third, active listening and empathy can go a long way. Many times, customers want to feel as if they are heard and understood. Teaching employees to listen for what customers want while working with them to find a way to solve the problem can help tone down the situation.
This is a common one, and will likely be at the heart of most disagreements. Again, everyone has had different life experiences and perspectives that shape who they are. Unfortunately, this can lead to constant issues of misunderstandings and outright conflict. For example, you might have a long-running disagreement between an introverted and extroverted employee.
The introverted worker is friendly but decides to not participate in informal group discussions. On the other side, the extroverted co-worker sees informal communication and socialization as a necessary part of work. After a while, this can impact their working relationship as both are not fond of the other’s personality. What can you do?
Solution: On the surface, the introverted employee seems aloof and unwilling to interact with others. However, to the introvert, the extrovert may be perceived as needy and overbearing. A great way to bridge this gap is to have both take a personality test.
This practice then allows them to see that their actions are specifically not directed at the other person, but that they are just reacting to each other’s personality traits. Both are trying to interact with others in a way that makes them feel the most comfortable. So, much like the work style example, understanding this can better help them interpret each other’s motives and come up with ways to satisfy the other’s approach to communication.
Again, conflict is inevitable. It is going to happen. So, it is best to learn how to help employees overcome it healthily. When everyone has the tools they need to resolve conflict, disagreements are less likely to disrupt operations, productivity, or employee satisfaction.