As a subcontractor, all you want from your people is for them to take up their new roofing tools and get to work satisfying homeowners and other clients. And although you might accept certain conflicts between crew members as par for the course, the last thing you need are lingering disputes that put everyone on edge and hinder productivity. So the key is doing what you can to minimize both the conflicts themselves and the effects they have on morale and productivity.
It's inevitable that conflicts will arise. They're inherent to every industry, and roofing is no exception. Fortunately, you're not completely powerless over conflict situations. Follow these 5 suggestions and your crew will pick those new roofing tools back up and return to work with minimal disruptions.
1. Recognize the Most Common Sources of Conflict
It's practically impossible to minimize or resolve onsite conflicts until you understand where they typically originate. Similar to other industries across the board, most conflicts in the roofing business stem from the following causes:
- Lack of Clear Communication
- Conflicts of Interest and Power Struggles
- Scarcity of Resources
- Difference of Opinion
This list is obviously incomplete, but it does provide a solid foundation for understanding how most conflicts arise. More specific sources of conflict can be considered as part of the above four 'categories' and addressed in a similar fashion. This grouping, along with the following four tips, will allow you to simplify your methods of conflict resolution.
2. Remind Crew Members What the Overall Goal Is
This is an oversimplification, but any given roofing job can be described in fairly straightforward terms. The client wants a new roof and your company wants to make money building one for them. This leads to an important but often forgotten truth: anything that interferes with the efficient delivery of the new roof is counterproductive. In other words, onsite conflicts hurt everyone involved with the job.
This doesn't mean these conflicts won't arise. They most certainly will. It's simply a part of doing business. But you should still remind your crew what they are here to do. And you should remind them frequently-- before, during, and after any conflicts. This includes crew members and their supervisors alike.
At the very least, this reminder will provide some motivation to resolve conflicts productively and return to the task at hand as quickly as possible. And while things like ego, pride, and work ethic factor into the equation, reminding your crew why they're here will keep them focused on the bigger picture.
3. Communicate Clearly at All Times
This might seem obvious, but the clarity of communication doesn't happen all by itself. You have to work to improve both the clarity and thoroughness of your company communication on a daily basis to minimize conflicts. Even if it seems like you're saying the same thing again and again, you'll still save time, money, and frustration in the long run.
Here is a brief sampling of the topics you should address when you communicate with your workers. First, let everyone know in very specific terms what their responsibilities are on a given job. Just as importantly, communicate to them what they needn't be concerned with as well. This keeps everyone in their own lane and minimizes opportunities for damaging clashes of will.
Additionally, make sure that everyone knows who should make any final decisions. As a part of this, assure your workers that they will not be held accountable for decisions that fall outside the scope of their responsibilities.
The way you communicate is also very important. Be courteous and respectful at all times. Encourage your supervisors to practice this as well. Listen to your peoples' concerns and take their input seriously. This will create a sense of job ownership and pride, which are two things that help prevent conflicts.
4. Lead By Example
Whether you're aware of it or not, your crew will always model your onsite behavior. This includes the way you address and resolve conflicts, as well as your style of communication. If you're argumentative, combative, or confrontational, you can bet your crew will act in the same counterproductive way. This is clearly contrary to your goals, so always behave in a way that inspires and earns respect.
This means you shouldn't constantly be pulling rank and barking out commands to your staff. Yes, job sites can be very stressful and the pressure on you is often immense. But if you behave like this under stress, you'll only add to your burden in the long run. Always address conflicts in the same way that you'd want your crew to address them for best results.
4. Be As Inclusive as Possible
People work better when they feel valued, so include them in your decision making as much as possible. At the very least, explain why you've come to any controversial decisions or made significant changes to everyday operations.
It's also a good idea to brainstorm whenever possible. Your crew members are the eyes and ears of your operation. As such, they have access to circumstances you're not aware of. Giving your crew members room to express themselves openly will go a long way toward increasing morale and minimizing conflict.
Conflict Resolution is One of the Most Important New Roofing Tools You Can Acquire
A thorough understanding of onsite conflicts is an important part of your company's success. This is especially true in today's fast-paced, competitive business climate. Everything is accelerated now. This increased pace leads to a network of complex relationships.
It follows that these complex relationships create more opportunities for conflict than existed before. It also follows that good methods for conflict resolution are an absolute requirement in today's competitive climate.
Conflict resolution is a much more important tool than most people realize. People perform better when they work as a team, and nothing will impede this necessary unity faster than lingering conflicts and ill will. Practice the steps outlined above consistently and you'll be amazed at the results.