It is very common for auto shop owners to become overwhelmed. They try to do too many things at once; unfortunately, they do not get most of them done, or if they do, they are done poorly.
These owners are suffering from the “Dad syndrome.” The reason they are unable to finish their tasks is because they are helping others or solving everyone else’s problems. All of their employees treat them as a Dad.
All day long, whenever the employees have a problem, they come to the owner for answers or help with their problems. This leaves no time for the owner to finish what needs to get done.
“Dad! Can you help me with this problem?” “Dad! What do you want me to do with this?” “Dad! What should I do next?” Oftentimes, an owner leaves the shop for ten minutes and comes back to find three of the highest production people standing around waiting for him or her to solve their problems. The owner barely gets out of the car before they all start yelling, “Dad!”
It is like nobody can do anything or think for themselves. Dad has to make every decision and handle every problem. Is it any wonder that the shop owner goes home tired and overwhelmed?
The effects of the Dad syndrome are many. The biggest effect is it costs the shop lots of money. Because of the Dad syndrome, the shop grows to a certain volume level and quits growing. Dad can only handle so much.
It affects the ability of the shop to get into the profitable mode. It affects the ability of the employees to produce. It causes a great deal of confusion resulting in lost time, lost production, and lots of lost money.
So, what is the solution? The first step is to recognize that it is a problem in the shop.
Next, the owner must get employees to start doing their jobs without his or her help. Part of this is done by defining exactly what their job is and what is expected of them. Next, the owner should put the employees on an incentive program where they get paid based on the following:
1) The volume of work they can do, and
2) The level of expertise they can handle.
Owners must learn to train employees so they are just as prepared to solve problems they face. They should teach employees how to handle problems as they come up, and their pay should be based on this.
Eventually, owners should refuse to handle the employees’ jobs, so the employees will learn not to constantly rely on the owners. At our company, the owner used to say, “Manage, Manager! I pay you to handle the problems, so handle them!”
The key to solving the Dad syndrome is for owners to recognize that they have to quit solving employees’ problems and, instead, teach them how to do it.