Sometimes coworkers can be far more difficult to handle than your job duties -- on-the-job disagreements can reduce productivity and affect customer satisfaction. And for automotive technicians who are paid based on their work output, that could also mean lower pay. You need to learn how to resolve such conflicts while protecting your interests and positioning yourself as a team player.
Start at the Source
If you're having a problem with just one coworker, try discussing the issue with him. The discussion should be professional, calm, brief and held in private. Start by asking your colleague if he has noticed that the two of you have been clashing over a particular issue or are just not working well together. Listen to his point of view and see if you can reach a compromise. If your own behavior might be contributing to the conflict, own up to it and do what you can to remedy the situation.
If that fails, invite the person to go to management with you in an effort to eliminate the problem. Don't complain to the boss behind your coworker's back -- it's likely to make the situation worse.
Unfortunately, the person you're having trouble working with may be your boss. For instance, a technician in an auto shop could believe that some favored employees consistently get the best job assignments -- and, consequently, heftier paychecks.
Whatever you do, whether the issue is between you and your boss or you and a colleague, do not let the issue to affect a customer -- you will lose any credibility or chance at resolution if you allow the conflict to spill into the public's view.
Time to Talk to Management
When bringing an issue to your manager's attention, recognize that your needs and wants must take a backseat to the company's best interests. For example, if you notice the most profitable work assignments being steered to one or two individuals when you would be just as competent at completing these jobs, phrase your complaint in a way that stresses customer service.
If you were to say "I should be put on some of those jobs so I could earn more money," that would probably get you nowhere. However, if you were to say, "I notice that only Bill and John get brake replacement jobs. That means customers sometimes have to wait longer than necessary when I could do those jobs, too," you are much more likely to get your boss's attention.
When to Say When
Some disagreement in the workplace is normal. But if you find multiple battles continuously raging on in your shop, you have to recognize that management is not doing its job. Then you have a decision to make: Either stay and live with the situation, or dust off your resume and start looking for something better.