Editor’s note: In the September/October edition of Shop Owner, we ran an article entitled, “Tattoos, Piercings and Telecommuting, Oh My!” In this edition, Mandee Bradshaw of DRIVE offers a different perspective on the topic.
So maybe you don’t have a tattoo. And maybe you don’t have purple hair. But it’s important to look beyond that and get to know the person sitting across from you … because that might be the person whom you’ll be interviewing next.
A good manager or owner checks any perceived negative opinions about a tattoo or two – or three – at the door.
The perception that millennials are different from baby boomers, or Gen X is different from Gen Y, might have some truth to it. After all, who you are as an adult is shaped by the era in which you grew up and how you grew up. But, being different – being an individual – is a good thing. When you were in your 20s, you may have had long hair. In the 1960s, having long hair was equated with being antisocial, being a troublemaker. Did that make you so? Did it make you a lesser person without valid thoughts and opinions? Of course not.
It’s the same now. When you’re sitting across the desk interviewing someone for your service advisor position, it’s a good idea to remember when you were in the same position as this prospective employee. A good manager or owner checks any perceived negative opinions about a tattoo or two – or three – at the door. Everyone brings their own opinions into any situation, but you need to know that tattoos for any person may just be a personal form of being creative and unique, or a way to express self-identification with their peers. If they aren’t right for the position, that’s fine. But the hiring decision shouldn’t be made on how many colors of the spectrum are on their arms or their head.
At the end of the day, running a business is about priorities and proportion. It’s about identifying what’s important. Your priorities should be about advancing your company’s mission, mentoring and encouraging employees to do their best, zeroing in on the big issues and identifying the projects you can delegate to capable employees. Learning to understand what an individual can contribute should be your focus.
It’s just a fact that the largest group of potential employees are millennials. If you invite someone in for an interview because their resume impressed you, but you decided to pass on the candidate because they have a tattoo or a piercing, you could be missing out on a great employee. That person is simply expressing individuality and creativity. Their hair color, tattoo or piercing has nothing to do with their possible contribution to your shop. That tattoo is part of them – just like their great work ethic and the creative ideas and the imagination they bring to their work.
In the United States, 40% of the population has at least one tattoo. If you gate off that population as “not appropriate for my shop” instead of focusing on the skills a person can contribute to your office and not their appearance, it will be much harder to find that next great employee.
And bear this in mind: If 40% of the population has a tattoo, that means that 40% of your customers have tattoos. They are commonplace across all industries and professions – from salespeople and technicians to lawyers and business owners, both men and women.
Outward statements of individuality and creativity have always been present. In the 1950s, it was a black leather jacket and greased-back hair. In the 1960s, it was long hair and bell-bottoms. At the turn of the 21st century, the opinion of tattoos changed. Having a few tattoos is mainstream now. It may represent a person’s individuality – or it may just be that the person likes the way it looks, as simple as that. Tattoos have been around for thousands of years and they’ll be around for thousands yet to come.
Self-expression is a good thing … until it isn’t. An important aspect here is to set ground rules. So any tattoo that includes profanity – or worse, any tattoo that’s racist or visually obscene – shouldn’t be part of your team. Both for your employees and customers, that kind of statement is not something you want associated with your shop. But make sure you’re interpreting the tattoo correctly – so just ask the prospective hire to explain.
Take a look at the most productive and happiest group of people at your company. It’s probably a diverse group with different experiences and viewpoints. The probability that a few have tattoos or a different hair color – or earlobe plugs – is high. But that doesn’t impact their productivity or respect from other employees or customers.
Always think about what the person can do and can contribute to your department and company. If you catch yourself thinking less of a person with green hair or a few tatts, refocus your attention on what that person can do and not what they look like.
As the vice president of marketing & business development for DRIVE, Mandee Bradshaw keeps an active finger on the pulse of the industry by cultivating relationships with parts vendors and trade associations. In addition to leading the business development area of DRIVE, Bradshaw also overseas all of the company’s marketing functions. Her diverse background in business and 10 years of experience in the automotive aftermarket contributes to her unique skill set, focused on communications, relationship management, marketing and leadership. She can be reached at [email protected]