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Hey Boss, Are You Approachable?

Joe Marconi


My son is not in the automotive industry. He is in the commercial real estate business. However, the workplace problems are the same. Recently, his frustration with the heads of the company reached an all-time high. When I asked him why he doesn’t speak up and let the leadership know how he is feeling, he responded, “Anyone who has voiced concerns or issues has been viewed as weak and incapable of doing their job. I don’t want to be viewed like that.” This is an example of a toxic work environment.

If you are a shop owner, you are a leader. And leaders must be approachable. That means that you are willing to hear the concerns of others and have them express themselves. It also means that while you may not agree with someone’s perspective on an issue, it is their perspective, and that viewpoint needs to be recognized and respected.

Make it known that you want to hear the opinions of others. Literally, ask for input from others. And thank those that speak up. Now, I am not saying that you need to act on every concern or opinion. That would not be realistic. But just listening may be enough. And you never know, someone in your company may have an idea that you never thought about and even improve your business.


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Every Tuesday at noon, we had our weekly shop meeting which included lunch on the company's dime.   Some weeks there were hour-long webcasts, while other weeks might have us all recapping a job that kicked our tail the week before.  Some weeks it was a pure gripe and bitch session.  But I always listened.

It's my belief that if a shop owner and/or the powers that be are truly engaged and approachable, it helps the shop run much smoother.  I would like to believe I was very approachable because I heard any and every voice of discontent or friction.  Sometimes, my crew would come up with some really cool ideas, too.  If a shop owner is disconnected from their crew, that sets up a situation of high turnover.  Really listening to my crew promoted higher quality of work and much less turnover.

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