Setting The StandardBy George Zeeks
My dad received his GED while serving in the Army which he had joined to escape his family of fifteen brothers and sisters. His departure was one less mouth to feed, but he was still loved and missed. His eighth grade education drove him to years of introspection and forced learning. His many attempts to share his gained knowledge with me lead to much frustration and angst. My father rose to the rank of Sergeant Major, which is the highest rank anyone could possibly attain as an enlisted serviceman. He lead multiple units of men through firefights in two wars, yet could not figure out how to get through to me.. his hardheaded son. One of his favorite sayings was, “ Why are you trying to push that Rock uphill?”. First, I didn’t see any hill and secondly what rock was he talking about? I thought his sayings were the result of a long forgotten explosion and blunt force head trauma. He never explained it to me, but said one day I would understand. What a typical parenting response, especially from a man without a proper education.
I managed a solid crew at a good shop and had always done very well with them. Then one day it hit me! I was frustrated at my crew for not being able to perform one basic task. Kind words, bribes, high volume conversations and physical threats just weren’t working. I neglected to look at the problem from any view point other than mine. I was way too busy pushing the Rock up the hill.
It seems as if every shop I have ever talked too has shared this moment. The biggest difference is if and when they realize who is actually at fault. Have you ever felt the hope and optimism in hiring an employee you just know is perfect for the job? This person is going to be the answer to all of your problems right? Just plug and play and we’re off to the promised land right? If you feel what I am talking about than you have obviously had your hands on the Rock. Too often we plug a new employee into a faulty system and sit back while they fail.
A couple of key items to cover so we keep on track. First, it never gets better than the interview. The new broom may sweep clean, but will eventually become an old broom. Experience comes from time, wisdom from pain, and excellence from learning to forgo the things that caused you pain.
When you hire a new employee do you set the standards too high for them? Do they know what is to be expected of them? Do you even know what those standards should be? Failure to clearly explain what you expect from them, will leave them to their own processes and forming of standards. They learned many of these standards from past shop experiences. Do you as a manager want to leave these loose ends hanging? Having clear cut standards and expectations start with you, the shop owner, and they echo down through the staff. Standards as basic as showing up for work, on time performance and complying with the uniform policy. One of the biggest mistakes is see is owners forgetting to explain the reasons behind their processes. I want you to take a second and think of why you have your staff come in at the time they do each day. What is the purpose behind it and can you explain it to your staff in a way in which they can rationalize? Give up?
Try something like this:
“Bob, the reason we have you come to work at 7:45am is so that you have time to prepare for your 8am workload. We know that you only have so many hours in a day to be able to turn the hours that you need. This ensures that you make enough money to support your family and pay your bills. We want to make sure that you have the opportunity to make a decent living and do well financially. To make sure you have this opportunity, we make appointments for our customers starting at 8am. We make a promise to our customer, so we can keep our promise to you.” It may seem a bit wordy, but I promise that explaining the rationale behind it will reach them. It also sounds better than, “ You’re late Dirt bag!” I promise you will have better results.