When the rest of us have wrapped up work and gone home for the day, Flagger Force’s response shift crew is just getting started. Formerly known as the “off-shift,” this small cadre of employees handle tasks in nearly all company operations and they keep the ship a-sail during non-business hours. What these folks take care of during the swing shift is impressive. If you haven’t acquainted yourself with their duties, now is your chance. THE BUSINESS OF RESPONSE SHIFT The response shift has three pillars of responsibility: • Fill emergency orders • Shift resources correctly • Help with employee emergencies Also included is their critical role in maintaining great client relations and providing assistance for field employees. They are full-stack supporters of the company. Response shift staff have seen all manner of emergency calls. You name it, they’ve filled an emergency order for it. Their key focus is on tending to top-level priorities and emergent needs. They do everything they can to get help where it’s needed and keep our communities moving. T A I L G A T E T A L K 2 | TAILGATE TALK TAILGATE TALK | 3 Short-term traffic controllers are people ambassadors just as much as they are traffic control professionals. You engage with co-workers and clients daily. Sometimes those interactions may lead to disagreements. Succeed at managing conflict by embracing our Values, Vision, and Mission statements and applying a collaborative approach. USE THE COLLABORATIVE APPROACH TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION You and the crew have arrived at the job site. You’re going through the pre-job brief when you discover a problem. To correctly perform the job, you’re going to need additional resources. It’s 8:15 a.m. and the work absolutely must begin at 9:00 a.m. What do you do? 1. Attack Problems, Not People It’s not time for the blame game. Separate the problem from the people. Based on the pre-job brief, it’s clear you’ll need one more crew member and a ‘Road Closed’ sign. The first part of the problem has been identified. Talking to people can be tough, especially when it’s the first meeting. Try these ice-breakers to start the conversation. 2. Focus on the Shared Goal In this scenario, everyone involved should have at least two common interests: keeping the work zone safe and performing the job well. The goal is to complete the work to the client’s satisfaction and maintain a positive relationship. With that in mind, you’ll want to respectfully approach the client and explain the situation. Avoid “you” statements that may escalate the conflict. For example, say, “I believe that this job requires an extra crew member. According to typical number…” 3. Create Options Now that you’ve explained your concern(s), offer the best options available. Indicate that you’ve already been in contact with your area supervisor and that you have options for resolving the issue. Don’t get hung up seeking the “perfect solution” because it may not exist. 4. Evaluate the Solution Ask: is it equally fair for both of us? Maintain an ethical approach to resolving the conflict and serve with integrity. Engaging During Conflict Get to Know the Response Shift • Comment on the weather • Ask, “How are you doing?” • Ask, “How was your weekend?” • Ask, “Any big plans for this weekend?” • Comment on a sports event • Repeat an interesting fact you know CONVERSATION STARTER IDEAS • Mention something your kid did recently that makes you proud • Offer a compliment • Ask about the person’s family • Offer comments about the current surroundings or reason for being there • Keep it simple and say, “It’s been nice talking to you…” • Offer an evaluation, like, “I’m glad I got to meet you…” NATURAL WAYS TO END THE CONVERSATION • Indicate a need to start the work. “Thanks for your time this morning. We need to get set up now…” WHEN TO CALL IN Response shift absolutely needs to know about a personal injury or illness that has occurred, because the sooner they know about it, the sooner they can work on getting you the help you need. Without a doubt, they support those working the night or emergency field shifts. Are you on a job, but don’t have the right equipment? Are you in danger or feeling ill? Call them right away. Though fully capable of handling multiple functions, there are some things they are not tasked to perform. Response shift can’t address issues of payroll and benefits, requesting or changing PTO, or special scheduling requests. Rather, the day-time personnel are charged with these tasks. ACKNOWLEDGE THE CALL When response shift calls you, please answer your phone. They don’t want to bother you in the middle of the night, but it’s their responsibility to do so for the company, our clients, and our communities. We need our team to respond by accepting job assignments when possible. But if you can’t, please let them know by answering the call.