Every Employee Has a GoalPosted 9/1/2008
By Bob Spitz
Turning your workers into good employees is an important part of managing your shop.
One day I was having a bite to eat with a friend of mine who owns a shop in Philly. I took one look at him and could tell he was stressed. He was bursting to tell me about his business. I listened carefully to every word he was saying. As the story unfolded, the underlying situation for his shop became crystal clear; he had routine employee issues and he didn't know how to solve them. He actually had wrong solutions and didn't know it, so he tried to implement his "solutions" and things didn't get resolved.
He knew I was paying close attention while he voiced his sorrows. And as he polished off the last bite of his sandwich, he looked me square in the eye and said, "Honestly, I wish I could just find a couple of really good employees. That's all I need. Can you steer me in the right direction?"
When he said he wanted to "find some really good employees," I knew he was completely off track. Here he was, working his guts out and blocking his own success.
A professional manager doesn't find really good employees, they make them.
Over the years, my Philly friend has spoken to hundreds of possible new hires, and I'm sure 50 of them were "really good potential employees." He had personally interviewed a lot of people. He hired some and didn't hire others. But here's the point: He could have turned 50 (of those several hundred people he interviewed) into really good employees. That's far more than he needed. The raw ingredients for a recipe of business success were right under his nose.
My friend's theory about finding good people is common. And it leads exactly nowhere.
Here's the truth - you can hire a "really good potential employee" and if you don't have things properly in place to bring them up to the level of being a "really good actual employee for your shop," you won't actually get a really good employee at all.
And you might get one who winds up not liking you or having no respect for you. When that happens they certainly won't do their best. It's not good for them, it's not good for you, the shop, your customers, your profits or your peace of mind. And you might wonder what's wrong with your hiring practices when that wasn't the real problem.
This can be one of the toughest challenges for a shop owner to face.
My friend had the usual business problems that go along with a broken crew ... he worked extra hours. He felt he had to because he couldn't hand important responsibilities over to his team. He knew they would mess things up one way or the other (and of course they did). Every time he thought he had his basic employee problems licked, one of them wouldn't show up for work, or a productive employee would find another job (for just a tiny increase in pay), or another employee would do something irresponsible. Each situation acted as a setback to the business.
He told me he would get more and more anxious and tired when he had to find more techs or another service writer. He hated the whole process. Well, of course he did - deep down inside he knew he was going to handle the employees poorly - and they wouldn't ever really have a chance to become "really good employees."
Here's the bottom line: helping employees to become (and remain) really good employees is one of the primary jobs of a manager or executive. And most of them either don't know it is one of their primary jobs, or they don't know how to do that job. Maybe the "manager" can do other jobs but not that one - the real-world job of making good employees. So they blame other people for being no good in the first place, or they blame their team for not doing a good job when actually they themselves are not doing the job they are supposed to be doing.
Now, I'm just not the type to leave a friend in the ditch. I decided to help him (not surprising, because that is what I love to do the most).
I soon discovered that he didn't know why someone would want to work at his shop and he especially didn't know why someone would want to keep working at his shop year in and year out.
He was missing some basics about people, why they work and what is on their mind when they are at work. I've found a lot of owners and managers do not know the basics of what makes someone tick. What turns them on, what turns them off, what revs them up and what causes them to break down right there on the job!
First, every employee has a goal, a reason for being there. There are exact techniques that can be used to clarify a goal (and they can be quite precise).
Every shop and every shop owner has a goal. The more the goals of the employee line up with the goals of the shop, the easier things will flow between shop and employee, employee and shop. You want to see something messy? Work in a place where the basic goals of one or more employees are slamming up against the goals of the business or the owner. Now that's stress.
Good employees want to know what you are trying to accomplish, how they fit into the picture and how they can benefit by helping you succeed.
If you have customers and employees, you are in the people handling business. Learning how to manage employees is a true art and makes the difference between an owner having a great team and having a high turnover and a lot of stress. Learn to manage people, and you are on the road to a stress-free life. Wishing you success!
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