Running a Shop Leadership

Promoting Employee Development

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Regardless of the industry, finding good employees is a daunting task, and turnover in the quick oil and quick lube fields is still a frustratingly common part of maintaining any staff.  

With it becoming seemingly impossible to retain people, it may then seem like a fool’s errand to try to spend any sort of substantial amount of time investing in the personal and professional development of an employee for the brief time during which they’re with you. 

Scott Miller of the Franklin Covey Institute, a leadership and business execution training program, says even though it may be easy to push employee development by the wayside, having a strong growth culture is essential to a smoothly functioning business.

Miller says taking a more passive approach to employee development and creating an environment conducive to self-exploration as opposed to a more hands-on approach strikes a good balance between helping your employees be the best they can be while they’re with you and can help maximize productivity in your shop. 

As told to Noah Brown

Now more than ever,  people have enormous choices. Most of us, whether we are white collar, blue collar, no collar, whether you are highly educated or in a fairly transitory job, you have more choices now than you ever did before.

Because of that, loyalty to an employer is no longer a value that much of the younger generation holds. That's kind of a thing from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, and that's not a prominent value anymore. The average career length, the amount of work that someone puts into a single job now, is 18 months. If you want someone to even stay that long or to stay longer, you have to recognize what motivates them, and you have to recognize that what motivates them may not be what motivates you. 

The Platinum Rule

No longer do employers need to follow the golden rule, which is treat others as you would want to be treated. You’ve got to follow the platinum rule, which is to treat others how they want to be treated. Because the fact of the matter is people want to be treated differently. They have different values. 

We know this human resources adage to be true: People don't quit bad jobs. They quit bad bosses and bad cultures. People don't say “I hate this job.” They usually hate their boss. And their boss might be a good person, but they haven't been trained to be a great leader.

Once you build the skills of your managers and your leaders, that's what builds a great culture. You can't build a great culture without having great leaders and managers. Everything comes down to the skill of the leader. 

As for your employees, you’re most likely not going to have people stay at your company for 40 year, and you probably don’t want them to: You probably want ambitious people working for you. Be honest about that, and be honest about the work that your guys are going to be doing. We're not saving lives,we're not delivering babies, right? We are changing oil. We know that.  

The No. 1 priority in any industry, whether it’s quick oil or quick lube or something else, is to achieve results with and through other people. When that becomes the overarching mindset of your managers, everything changes.

The Right Thing to Do

As a leader, your job is to model everything you want to see in your people. You're helping them to learn some skills here. They're going to learn how to collaborate with your team members. They're going to have to learn how to diffuse conflict. You're going to learn how to delight customers. They're going to learn how to take pride in your work. These are skills that will serve them in whatever job or career they want.

And, a little more practically, at the end of the day, your employees are also probably one of your biggest referrals. Not just for customers, but for other employees. So when someone leaves, treat them respectfully, because everybody else is watching.

So why is it valuable to invest in employees who will not be with you for longer than 18 months? Because it's the right thing to do as a principled leader. You care about them, whether they care about you or not. You're their coach. You're their sponsor. You’re their mentor. 

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