Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of management material that was written by Peter Drucker, who is generally recognized as “the father of modern management.” His style leans toward understanding relationships within management teams and bringing out the best in people to produce excellent results. This leads me to ask, if you were to evaluate your day, would you say you spend most of your time managing, leading, training or educating your co-workers? As a shop owner, it is your responsibility to incorporate all of these into your daily process and understand how they all work together to improve the profitability of your shop.
You have to manage the shop wisely. You need to understand the resources you have available, and put them to use in the most productive manner, so that you can maximize your profitability. You’re not in this business because you want to break even, right? But, as the leader of your business, you also need to understand that it is not your workers’ responsibility to be productive, it is your responsibility as the manager to make sure they meet your productivity requirements. You achieve this by making sure they have the right tools and equipment available to do the job efficiently. You achieve this by making sure they understand your expectations. You achieve this by making sure you have the right people on the right jobs.
You have to lead your people as well. A position of leadership is not always an easy one. You’re the “boss,” so people have to listen to you. But, because of your position, you have much more responsibility. You feel it every day when your people come through the door.
“Leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’ And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don’t think ‘I.’ They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job is to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit…This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.” (P. Drucker)
If you lead your people well, they will not only follow, but they will leap ahead of you and take on more responsibility and be more productive, if you let them.
Training is of utmost importance in this business. Yet training is probably one of the easiest tasks of your job. You, or one of your suppliers, will train your people on specific jobs with specific tools. Training is necessary to teach new skills or upgrade existing skills. It’s up to you to make sure your technicians receive timely training on a regular basis, so that you can stay competitive and maintain the ability to work on current vehicles. This can be done with in-shop training, seminars, webinars, tradeshows, etc.
You educate your team every time you interact with one of them, or a customer. Education is a sharing of knowledge. Some people say education is everything you learn after you leave school. Every time you share your knowledge with someone else, you are telling them you respect their abilities. You are developing your employees into something more valuable to your business than when they first walked through your doors. As they become more knowledgeable, they become a greater asset to you and your business. By sharing your knowledge, you are reducing your load and giving your employee the opportunity to take on more responsibility. This can lead to less turnover, better job satisfaction and better productivity.
It is your responsibility to manage, lead, train and educate your team. Many managers say their people are their biggest assets. Believe it, and act on it. Allow your people to surprise you with their abilities. Allow them to be entrepreneurs within your company. It can be a daily challenge. But, if done right, you will create a team that outperforms and takes you places you might never have imagined.
“Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.”
Beth Skove is publisher of Tech Shop Magazine, an Engine Builder sister publication.