Posted by Thelma Marshall Product Director on February 4 , 2020

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Effective warehouse managers know how to step in and address coworker conflict. It only takes a couple of people disagreeing on something to affect an entire warehouse team. The results are ineffective teamwork within the organization and a negative impact on productivity and safety.

Most of us dislike “conflict management”, but there are ways to approach it that are simple and surprisingly effective. Think of it like clearing a path to compromise and agreement.

One reason conflict occurs is that people often listen to respond, rather than to hear someone’s different perspective. Your approach should be to hear each side of a dispute and really listen to understand what each employee is contending.

This dialogue is best done privately with only those involved in a conflict. Then, once you have gathered all the conflicting opinions, you can regroup as a team and reach an agreement.

Lead by example

Demonstrate that you listen and value differing opinions. Here’s how:

Step one: Acknowledge the dispute and the difference of opinions. Restate the differences without accusation or judgement. Open communication allows employees to know their challenges are fully recognized and understood, and that you value their opinion.

Step two: Give meaning to the team’s goals and how this conflict hurts their objectives. Remind those involved in the conflict what the common objective is.

Step three: Discuss how conflicting ideas may be keeping the organization from effectively carrying out its strategy. Encourage everyone to brainstorm for options that solve the conflict and allow everyone to achieve their objectives while respectfully acknowledging other opinions.

Step Four: Give meaning to the team’s goals. Most employees feel a greater desire to reach a common ground if they fully understand why a goal is important and valuable. Remind everyone that their performance impacts everyone.

Provide the facts

Once an agreement is made that resolves a conflict use data to demonstrate where goals or improvement occurred as a result of that compromise. Armed with concrete facts about their successes and shortcomings, everyone can see the benefit to reaching an agreement.  

Make data easy to understand

Telematics data is beneficial to your team because it shows facts about current conditions and exactly where changes generated improvement. It pinpoints problems and provides direction. But most people dislike complicated data. So, tell your team the facts and keep it simple.

Here’s how: 

  • Operator Report Card – provides data at a singular operator level or at a group level. This data provides a holistic view of how well your operators are performing.
  • Simultaneous Utilization Reports – provides data on operator and forklift utilization at any given time. 
  • Advanced Location – provides data on traffic patterns, where impacts occur, as well as traffic violations pertaining to pedestrian walkway or safe zones and speeding.  

Over time, conflict can diminish as employees begins to shift into team-centered thinking. With tangible results, supported by telematic data, managers can lead their team, resolve conflicts and reach improvement objectives.

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