Snr VP Business Dev
One day, I was having a bite to eat with my friend 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 did not know how to solve them. His “solutions” were not the right solutions, so when he would implement them, the issues would not resolve.
He knew I was paying close attention while he voiced his sorrows. As he finished off the last bit 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.
Professional managers do not find really good employees – they make them.
Over the years, my Philly friend has spoken to hundreds of possible new hires, and I am 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 is 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 employees is very common – and it leads exactly nowhere.
Here is the truth: You can hire a “really good potential employee,” but if you do not have things properly in place to bring them up to the level of “really good employee for your shop,” you won’t actually get a really good employee. You might even get one that does not like you or respect you. In that case, they certainly won’t do their best. It’s not good for them; and it’s not good for you, the shop, the customers, the cash, or your peace of mind. You will start to wonder what’s wrong with your hiring practices, even though that is not 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 could not hand over important responsibilities 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 basic employee problems licked, one of them wouldn’t show up for work, a productive one would find another job (for just a tiny increase in pay), or one of them would do something enormously irresponsible. Each situation was 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, he knew he was going to handle the employees poorly – and they would never have a chance to become “really good employees.”
Here is the bottom line: Helping employees to become (and remain) really good employees is one of the primary jobs of a manager or executive. Most of them either do not know it is one of their primary jobs, or they do not 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. In reality, they are the ones who are not doing the job they should be doing, which is actively creating a team that brings lots of work through the door and sends shiny results back out the door (with nice barrels of cash for everyone involved).
Now, I am just not the type to leave a friend in the ditch. I decided to help him (because that is what I love to do the most).
I soon discovered that he did not know why someone would want to work at his shop, and he especially did not know why someone would want to keep working at his shop year after year.
He was missing some basics about people: why they work and what is on their mind when they are at work. (Some owners tend to forget that employees are people, not engines.) I have found that 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 and a reason for being there. There are 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 flow between shop and employee, employee and shop. If 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 turn-over and a lot of stress. Learn to manage people, and you will be on the road to a stress-free life.
Wishing you success!