Employees or Team? (Which term do you use?)

I’ve been listening to owners speak of their team or employees for years. There are some common tell-tale signs of how owners/leaders view the people they hire to help them grow their business. Some views are one sided. The people owners hire are there for them.

Many owners start out with a dream of business/auto shop ownership for personal reasons.

  • Job security
  • Pay off debt
  • Financial security
  • Retirement
  • Lifestyle

These reasons are fine if you want to stay a one-person business. But if you want to hire people to grow your business, a new perspective or vantage is needed. What’s in it for them?

Maryann Croce Septpicture1    Owners are looking for great people who are willing to work for fair wages. Although that may sound like a reasonable request. It doesn’t consider what the people you hire would want or can reasonably expect from you, the owner.
Today people are tired of an outdated way of running a business. For years a line was drawn between employees and owners/managers. Many employees felt like a number, unappreciated and undervalued which causes performance to suffer and people to disengage.
Over time this has led to people leaving the auto industry and not as many coming in to replace them.

What if you look at the people you hired as a team. A great example of this is in sports. In many cases it takes a team to win games and championships. Each position is valued and important to the success of the team.


  • People who trust one another to get things done (They are accountable)
  • Defined roles and goal (Everyone know what is expected from them and each other)
  • Regularly building and practicing skills (Environment to learn and use skills)
  • Clearly defined and shared purpose (The purpose is clear, and it works for all)

Get to know your team individually. What are their goals and what motivates them? They may not be the same things that motivate you. We’re all in different stages of business and life. What is important to someone today may be different five years from now. Caring about your team is a great way to build connection and trust.

It’s easier to speak with someone about a challenge you’re having when you trust them. It’s also easier to ask for help. This can help with retention of top talent.

A winning team is respectful of one another and gives each team member the opportunity to grow and build skills.

6 Things Team Members Should Hear from An Owner/Leader

  • “I’m not perfect and I don’t expect you to be.” (Be honest about mistakes.)
  • “Thank You” (Let them know they are appreciated.)
  • “Tell me more.” (Coach your team.)
  • “What are your personal and professional goals.” (Align their growth to what they want.)
  • “What do you need from me?” (Let them know you are a resource. They still do the work, but you can help them grow.)
  • “What did you learn today that will help you tomorrow? (We all have bad days, but the lessons learned are powerful tools.)

If you refer to the people you’ve hired as employees, try thinking of them as a team. It’s a shift in words but words matter, and it can change the perspective of how you value and appreciate them.

This is more than feel good advice my friends. If you don’t empower the people, you hire, you will not be in control of your business. Delegating will be a real challenge and your business will control you. That’s why many owners have a hard time stepping away as they need or want to, and I know personal relationships can suffer as a result.

Reflect on your own career and the best boss/manager/owner you ever had. Were you viewed as an employee or as a team member? If you want to build your leadership skills get guidance. A coach, mentor or another business owner who is an example of the type of owner/leader you want to be can help. Don’t go it alone.

Maryann CroceMaryann Croce, a certified partner of Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year™, is an operations coach/speaker and creator of ‘3-Day Weekends’ Coaching. Her company Small Biz Vantage specialized in performance and leadership development for automotive and skilled trade business owners. She has been an auto shop owner since 1999. You can reach Maryann at (203) 913-7741 or maryann@SmallBizVantage.com Maryann speaks on achieving goals and work-life fulfillment SmallBizVantage.com