Managing Your Most Important Asset, Your Employees
A practical guide for shop owners
By Joe Marconi
We all know that without customers, your business would not survive. The strength of your customer base insures the success of your business and that success is directly related to the quality of people who work in your company. The only way to insure a great customer base is by building a great team of employees.
When Yankee legend Yogi Berra was asked, “What makes a great manager of a baseball team?” Yogi replied, “A great ball club”. His answer may be simplistic in nature, but it speaks volumes. Satisfied customers can never be achieved without happy employees. Perhaps the most difficult part of management is motivating our employees to work toward the common goal of insuring the success of your company.
Managers and owners deal with a variety of issues each and every day; from personality differences to generational differences. Workers from the baby boomer generation often have a tough time understanding younger workers which can cause resentment on the part of your older workforce.
Speaking for myself, a baby boomer, I understood the unspoken hierarchy that the boss was king. And when the boss spoke, you listened. The boss commanded respect and ruled by the doctrine of, “My way or the highway”. I remember the owner at my first job at a gas station in the Bronx telling me the day I was hired: “You’ll work Monday through Saturday, half days on holidays, pump gas when needed and I’ll start you off at minimum wage”. The owner of that gas station never shut the bays doors unless it rained hard or snowed, never turned on the heat and we had no hot water. No one at that shop complained, we didn’t know any better, we were just happy to be working.
Today, we live in a completely different world. I am not here to judge which way was better, only to say that the differences in the generations, gender and cultural must be recognized in order to maintain healthy morale in your workplace. For without a healthy and a cohesive workplace, your business will not thrive. The boss may still be king, but the king needs to earn the respect of the people that work in the company.
Priorities and lifestyles have changed too. Past generations viewed their job and their family as their number one priority. Today, people still hold their careers as vital to their survival and future, but also desire a life beyond work. Time off, free time, family and friends are part of their makeup.
Motivation becomes the issue. There was a time when just having a job and providing for your family was all the motivation you needed. That may not hold true anymore.
People today are more social. They want a balance between work, family and play. So how do we motivate and get our employees to work as a team? How do we express to them the importance that the quality of their work is directly related to the success of the business? Well, the very first way is to tell them. That’s right; let your people know that you appreciate them. Spend time talking with the people in your company. Praise them when they do a good job. I remember when I worked at a Ford dealership in the late 70’s, the only time you would see the boss come out his office was to reprimand someone. You would cringe when you would see him walk toward you; you knew it wasn’t good.
Don’t be that boss.
Find things to talk about with your people. Become genuinely interested in what interests them. It could be sports, their last vacation, their family, the weather or anything other than work related. This shows your human side and lets people know that you care about them as a person, not just a worker.
Get your employees involved in some of the decision making processes. If you are looking to upgrade your tire balancer, hold a meeting and discuss it with your staff. Have them help research the different equipment makers and collectively arrive at a decision. Making your employees feel important enough to help you with a key decision will go a long way in improving morale. That must be you goal. Remember, I can’t say it enough times: Happy employees make happy customers.
I must be honest with everyone. I too once followed the doctrine of “My way or the highway”. However, though the years I have learned that you can be more effective when you get the people in your company working and producing because they want to, rather than because you ordered them to.
When the people in your company feel the company respects their position and values the work they do, they begin to take ownership and pride in their work. People need to feel that they are making a contribution and that the company they work for recognizes this. Everyone likes to feel important and appreciated.
Start today by walking around the shop and talking to your employees. Pat a few people on the back for a job well done. Let your employees see that you are more than just their boss. Trust me; you cannot grow your business by yourself. You need good people around you. Positive employee morale will result in higher productivity, better customer relations and more income to your bottom line. Employees are people first, workers second. Treat them as people and watch your business grow.