When working with heavy machinery such as vacuum tank trucks, it is vital to have employees that work as a team. When you have conflicts between employees, especially regarding office staff and field crew, hiccups are going to happen. Mistakes can be costly, including damaging your company’s reputation and leaving customers feeling dissatisfied with their service. If this becomes a recurring issue, it could even threaten the whole existence of your business.
So what can be done to avoid this? We want to take a closer look at how you can build up your team to operate more efficiently, as well as smoothing out any differences in personalities and environment.
1.) Recognize that both roles matter.
No singular role is more important than the other. If there is no one to operate the vacuum tank trucks, customers aren’t getting serviced. On the other hand, if someone isn’t in the office to take the calls and schedule with customers, there is nothing to service in the first place. Roles might look fundamentally different, but they work in tandem to achieve the same goal.
This is where you have to have respect for each other’s work. For field workers, you can’t just look at the office staff and say ‘you have no idea how hard manual labor is’. And for those working in the office, you can’t just make assumptions about the field crew and call them ‘brutes’ or ‘roughnecks’. Having a mutual understanding and respect for one another goes a long way.
If this is something that you are struggling with in your company, take the time to have each role to put themselves in the other’s shoes. For example, you could schedule ride alongs for the office staff to see what the crew faces each day. Then, the field team can sit in while office staff handle the logistics of customer service and filing or scheduling tasks. These sorts of exercises can provide each other with a renewed perspective.
2.) Don’t play favorites.
In any industry or setting, this can be a huge challenge. Playing favorites, even accidentally, can create unwanted tension. Not to mention that when this happens, other employees take notice and can become frustrated and take notice as well. If you find yourself doing this as a boss or supervisor, or notice others on the management team doing this, nip it in the bud as quickly as possible.
Ensure that you have set up a policy or guideline for preferential treatment and that you provide training on this topic. Don’t just send out an email and expect to get it resolved. Have these conversations in person with a structured setting where you can have open, honest dialogue and see that everyone is clear on the new procedures. This will provide transparency and show that you care about resolving these types of issues.
3.) Minimize finger pointing.
When something slips through the cracks or trouble arises, it can be easy to fall into the trap of assigning blame. Mistakes happen because after all, we are just human. But pointing fingers instead of taking personal responsibility can often exacerbate the issue, often leading to nothing getting resolved.
Accountability is key, and fostering a work environment that encourages accountability without any of the toxic blame game can be a difficult task to balance. As a leader, it is your job to get to the bottom of the issue. You can’t go back in time and change it, but you can troubleshoot to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.
What caused the issue? Was it a lapse in communication? Training? A wildcard occurrence? Making this determination, and then taking the necessary steps to handle a similar situation ini the future, will get everyone back on track.
4.) Focus on overall employee happiness.
Unhappy employees make for an unhappy working environment. That’s the bottom line. When one side of the house is frustrated or unhappy, those sort of negative feelings can be contagious.
For example, if someone in your office staff is constantly having to put up with a nagging or rude customer, and then the next call they take is from a field employee who needs an update on something, their tone might be short or snippy. The field employee might take that encounter to heart, and then turn around and bring those same negative feelings to another employee. The chain goes so on and so forth.
Or, if there is something bigger going on within your organization, that can be an issue as well. It is vital to root out the cause of these issues and have an open door policy as a supervisor. You will have to develop trust with your employees. This can take time, but it is worth it. When something is brought to your attention, no matter how small it may seem, it will build up and develop towards them trusting you with the big stuff.
5.) Working as a team.
Not every single person within your organization is going to get along 100% of the time. As much as we all wish that were the case, it’s just not possible. While not everyone in your crew has to be best friends, they do have to be professional and civil.
If there is someone on your team who isn’t a good fit or seems to be stirring the pot, don’t be afraid to take action. Start by implementing disciplinary measures that are outlined in your company policy. This could include write ups or other means. If that doesn’t seem to work, don’t be afraid to let someone go. Leaving something toxic in can poison the whole bunch.
Running a septic service company is tough work! There are a lot of moving parts that are divided out between office and field employees alike. Whether they’re operating vacuum tank trucks or handling the calls to get it all scheduled, each role matters and deserves respect. Don’t play favorites nor be quick to point fingers when something goes awry. Instead, look for what caused the issues and implement changes and seek resolution.
And last though certainly not least, work as a cohesive team that is focused on employee satisfaction. After all, when your employees are happy, your customers are sure to reap the benefits!