By Bob Cooper
Mistake #1. Have your technicians compete against one another.
We all can agree that competition among employees is good, but there is a right way, and there’s a wrong way. The wrong way is to tell your techs that you’re going to post the hours they each flag, and at the end of the pay period the winner will receive a reward. Although that sounds good, you’ll inevitably end up with one winner, and no matter how you cut it, the rest of your techs are going to be losers. Now you might think that’s okay because it’s all in fun, and next week they all have another shot at being the winner, right? But the problem is that unless all of your techs have the same experience, the same skills, the same competencies, the same tools, and the same services to perform; over the course of a few months you’ll discover that one or two of your techs will typically come in first, and the rest of your techs will predictably lose.
Instead, give all of your techs the opportunity to win by having them compete against themselves rather than against one another. Here’s how you do it: let’s say you have tech #1 who has been consistently flagging 40 hours, and you know they have the skill and experience to consistently flag 46 hours. You set their goal at 48 hours. If tech #2 has less skill and less experience than tech #1, and if they typically flag 36 hours a week, then they should be striving to flag 43 hours per week, not 48. If you do this with each of your techs, they can then all be winners at the end of the pay period by reaching their individual goals.
Mistake #2. Show them how the job should be done.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t properly train your employees, and of course there will always be a time for you to help, but when it comes to managing people, sometimes the wrong answer will be the right answer obtained in the wrong way. When managing your techs and service advisors, you need to lead them to the answers rather than providing them with the answers. If you give them the answers, all you’re doing is teaching them to come to you when they have a problem, and validating the things they don’t know. Not only does this ding their confidence, but it’s bad for business too. So the next time a tech or service advisor is having a problem, or if they come to you for an answer, the very first thing you should do is ask them what they think. They’ll not only be proud they discovered the solution on their own, but you’ll be doing the single most important thing managers should do: teaching your employees how to solve problems. Years ago, president Nixon was talking about the welfare system here in America when he said, “If you give a man a crutch long enough you create a cripple.” It’s no different with employee management.
Mistake #3. Ignore your intuitions about an employee.
When it comes to managing people you need to have a clear understanding of expectations, you need to pay close attention to the facts, and you need to listen closely to that little voice in your head that we call intuition. If you sense you have someone in your company that is not a good fit, or may be a problem down the road, odds are you are correct. Far too many shop owners ignore their intuition, and it eventually costs them a fortune.
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