Workplace conflict may seem inevitable, but there are quite a few things you can do to minimize incidents between coworkers at your self-storage operation. There are also steps you can take to mitigate the damage caused when battles do occasionally occur. In fact, implementing some avoidance and resolution strategies can go a long way toward ensuring your business continues to run smoothly.
Let’s consider two hypothetical self-storage sites: Facility A and Facility B. Both are part of a large portfolio and supported by advanced technology, a comprehensive marketing strategy and an experienced executive team. Facility A is outfitted with a team of employees who have only recently met and come from an array of backgrounds. Facility B is staffed with people who have worked together for the past year. Of the two, which do you think has the better chance of functioning successfully while avoiding workplace conflict?
Chances are you quickly picked Facility B. It’s our natural inclination to think that a group who’s been together for a year is inherently more cohesive, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Team unity largely comes down to each member’s commitment toward the betterment of others and resolving differences before they become problems.
This is where conflict-resolution skills come into play. Let’s explore why it’s critical for self-storage team members to connect, how you can make yourself a better colleague, and how to resolve coworker conflicts when they arise.
It’s important to realize that coworkers may have lived completely different lives before working together. They can have vastly different upbringings and contradictory personalities, and possess opposite views on the world. Though these disparities can set colleagues on a rocky footing from the get-go, it doesn’t have to be the case.
As a member of a self-storage team, you have a choice: You can believe that differences between staff members is troubling and a problem, or exciting and beneficial. It’s in everyone’s best interests to lean toward the latter vein of thinking. Think about it: Where one employee may struggle with a particular task, another can offer a steady hand. When one becomes overwhelmed by working at a particular speed, another can offer guidance and navigation. In other words, colleagues who truly work well together do so because they choose synergy over competition.
Though “synergy” has become a bit of a buzzword, it means “the increased effectiveness that results when two or more people or businesses work together,” according to Merriam-Webster. Isn’t that a situation for which we should all be striving?
This type of cooperation can make any self-storage business better. When we feel connected to the people with whom we work, we aren’t only more likely to give our best effort, we tend to care more about the consequences. We don’t want to create headaches, problems or unnecessary tasks for the people we care about and respect. Complete partnership between team members is critical to increasing the overall effectiveness of any operation.
Understanding the types of conflict that can arise between self-storage coworkers is the first step in reinforcing collaboration and preventing incidents. According to management-training firm Vital Learning, most workplace skirmishes stem from six factors:
- Reluctance to accept change
- Improper task distribution
- Poor communication
- Challenging work environment
- Personality incompatibility
- Distracting workplace habits
When one of these causes an issue between employees, the effects can be drastic. Most conflicts impact two or more team members and can even interrupt business function and put off customers. With this in mind, our hypothetical Facility A and Facility B could be equally prone to in-house problems. If you work with someone long enough, differences are bound to bubble to the surface eventually.
In any service industry like self-storage, employee conflict can impact additional team members because they feel pressure to take sides. As a result, tangible work can suffer. Any task that involves the parties in question can be slowed because there’s less incentive to take care of each other.
If the conflict isn’t resolved quickly or satisfactorily, it can affect customers, too. When there’s an ongoing issue, your prospects and tenants can sense this palpable divide, which can shape their perspective about the business. A self-storage operation that consistently fails its customers can quickly gain a negative reputation, which can be extremely difficult to shake!
So, how should self-storage managers or supervisors step in to resolve an issue before it begins to negatively impact tenants and the overall business? According to HR Cloud, a developer of human-resources software and management solutions, the following steps are the best course of action:
- Properly identify the source of conflict.
- Allow each party to feel heard.
- Investigate the situation.
- Develop a positive solution.
- Anticipate future problems.
- Develop preventive strategies.
When a conflict arises, do your best to serve as a mediator. Persuade each party to express their concerns and give each the opportunity to approach the situation as teammates. It sounds simple, but this conversation can be vital to restoring cohesion and a common sense of purpose.
The last bullet above is particularly important. Once a conflict is resolved, strategies are necessary to stop future incidents. Since we know coworkers who believe in and respect each other are more likely to work harder for each other, team-building exercises and promoting a culture of camaraderie are two effective ways to strengthen your team and help it move forward.
Escalating an Incident
Though self-storage site employees should always do their part to resolve coworker conflict, there are situations when a district manager or owner should be involved. The most obvious circumstances that call for a supervisor’s attention are those that directly affect the well-being or safety of any staff member.
Thankfully, these situations are rare, but be ready to approach them quickly and with intensity. If at any point an employee feels uncomfortable handling a situation, they should reach out to a superior for help to ensure everyone on the team remains safe and is treated fairly.
The biggest benefit of a cohesive workforce is business efficiency and success. Self-storage coworkers who are committed to each other’s well-being and the betterment of the operation as a whole don’t have time for petty conflicts and typically aren’t tempted to focus their energy anywhere except performing their jobs well.
Every self-storage operation should adopt this positive stance. By working in the trenches, managers and other site employees have the benefit of being able to see the direct effect of their hard work. When energy is expended on conflict, the company suffers. Everyone should work hard to foster a team and workplace culture that’s deeply committed to individual, coworker and business prosperity.
Nicholas Sollitto is a content writer for Winter Garden, Florida-based Store Space Self Storage, which owns, manages or has purchase agreements for more than 80 facilities in 20 states. The company fuels growth and value with its experience-driven operations, proprietary platform and strategic digital-marketing programs. For more information, email [email protected].