Calling the Role

If everyone’s playing the right part, your shop can be a great place to work.

In a previous installment of Ready, Set Service! we discussed the creation of a service-ready training model that provided insight into the topic areas to consider when building a service-ready team. Here, we’ll discuss a new position that should exist in every automotive service business: the learning manager.

In the context of a modern repair facility, we can define the learning manager’s function as managing the following processes:

• Identifying and/or creating the learning plan for each job role in the business
• Evaluating each teammate and ensuring that they’re placed in the correct role
Assigning each teammate a career path and holding them accountable for their education
• Ensuring the organization has the commitment of the owner for all of the above

First, owners should develop a learning plan to clearly define job roles for everyone. Although listing the steps for setting job roles is beyond the scope of this article, it’s critical to the success of your business. A clearly defined job role details what is expected of each teammate and enables the learning manager to match available training content to each role. Without a job role, owners run the risk training a teammate in something that isn’t part of their job.

Next, determine if team members are placed in their correct roles. You likely know if long-term teammates are successful in their jobs. If not, a determination can be made using various technician assessments. There also are online tools that can challenge your teammates’ problem-solving abilities and reveal deficiencies in their knowledge or their ability to apply this knowledge. If you don’t evaluate your team and someone is out of place, the training you assign will illuminate their weaknesses.

After you’ve clearly identified job roles and evaluated your team, put each teammate on a suitable career path. I haven’t mentioned content yet, but there’s a lot of industry content out there – some good, some not so good. My team at CARQUEST Technical Institute provides a tremendous amount of quality content, as do others. But prior to these steps, you need to select a content provider for both instructor-led and online training.

Once a content provider has been selected, you can then assign each team member the appropriate course, using the service-ready model as a guide. Make sure each course is appropriate for the job role to which it is assigned.

Next, set understandable expectations with your team regarding when they need to complete the assigned training. Lay out how you’re going to monitor their progress and define the incentives for its successful completion. But you also must communicate the consequences of not completing the tasks.

Finally, recognize that all of the above steps in the process will be a struggle unless you set clear standards of performance for each teammate, with respect to their investment in learning. Failing to communicate these standards is the most common reason why training efforts fail.

When teammates succeed, celebrate their accomplishments. They may warrant a raise or promotion or just a pizza. And if a teammate struggles, the learning manager should provide guidance and/or remediation. A learning manager with a detailed plan and commitment from the owner can significantly improve production, efficiency and morale that can result in a much better place to work.