Getting the Most from Your Team – Is Your Plumber A Pain or an Asset?

Keeping Your Best Plumbers

Every experienced plumber is familiar the guy on the site who knows everything. While this is frustrating enough as a coworker, it can be even more frustrating as a manager. After years on the job these plumbers feel they know what is necessary and are hesitant to follow orders that go against their first instincts. So how do you deal with this personality type? You don’t want to lose your most experienced plumbers, but you also don’t want to spend your time arguing with staff.

Employees that work hard but have a hard time following direct orders may be a perfect fit to help lead your team – if they can learn to see things your way. Try explaining your reasoning to this employee in the simplest of terms. Try using the five whys – ask yourself why you hold your beliefs, then ask four more times. Each answer brings you closer to the core truth. Anja Smith offers an excellent example of this:

A plumber doesn’t understand why they must provide customers with multiple quotes for a project. The plumber feels that as the expert they know what’s best and would prefer to tell the customer what is needed and how much it will cost. Your first instinct may be to tell this plumber they need to give multiple quotes because you told them to but this only frustrates both of you and leaves the plumber feeling unheard and discouraged, below is an example of using the five whys to improve the situation.

  1. Why? (The knee jerk reaction) Because it’s the right thing to do.
  2. Why? Because there is usually more than one way to do things and the customer should have a say.
  3. Why? Sometimes you can repair, replace, or patch. The customer might have reasons for wanting a different level of service.
  4. Why? Because it’s their home. We don’t know their financial situation or the history of the property.
  5. Why? (The core truth) It’s their asset and their money. They have a right to say what happens to it.

By trying to understand where your difficult plumber is coming from and providing them with real, understandable reasons for your methods you get to keep an experienced, natural leader on your team and avoid frustrating arguments over company policy.


We are looking for instructors and presenters to help us grow our plumbing school. If you are a UPC plumber, have experience working with Fire Sprinkler Systems or have ideas for plumber courses, we want to hear from you. 

Benefits to becoming part of our instructor/presenter team

  • Opportunity to create course materials or simply present materials we have created.
  • Option for bulk payment or passive income
  • Nationwide name recognition in your field
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