Recently, I had the honor to work with some great leaders in Dallas, Texas. Experience in the automotive field varied but everyone had experience in operations supervision. All but one was pretty fresh in their roles at the company. During our initial introduction, we played the game of interview and introduction.
This is where you interview a person with the sole purpose of introducing them to the room. In true automotive fashion I kept them in close groups and made them sit back-to-back so they couldn’t see their partner (You know... because that is shop life... rare direct contact in a noisy area while trying to communicate.)
During the introduction phase, I was keyed into the level of information that was being shared. Of course, they started with name, location, and work history. Unscripted, they dove into family, hobbies, dislikes, and goals. I began to admire everyone’s ability to dive deeper than a quick professional recap and really introduce the person (we are people, after all). Despite what our direct reports may think, each one of us has a life outside of work. Questioning if the overhearing of others asking these types of questions caused such a sync of personability, I asked each one of them to call out a shop number that they oversee and then asked for the manager’s name and their personal data (just like they presented of their peers.) I was very proud to hear the names of partners, kids, and a description of them and not their work stats.
How special is that? Could you as a multi-unit operator recite such personal information about the people that keep you from being yelled at by customers and finance? Could the single store operators key in on all levels of employees? Who cares if you can?
As a Simon Sinek fan (maybe you should be one too), I am reminded of a phrase from a Ted Talk in 2009 simply stating, “People don’t care what you do, they care why you do it!” I have had the distinct pleasure in my life to work with great leaders who focus on the why. You can go back in my now five years of writing for this magazine and pull out countless heroes in my life that illustrated this tactic. I have also had the displeasure of working with those who haven’t.
As we key in on employee development this month, it is important to realize that is exactly what we are doing. When we drive our success based on a specific line in the profit and loss statement, we begin to place people in positions to hit the target or replace them if they do not hit it. These are the leaders who refer to labor as a lever that needs to be fine-tuned to meet targets. The better leaders place people into positions to grow and know that the long-term game is the person developing into something (not them hitting a target).
The little league coach keeps the struggling pitcher in despite the score so they can improve in challenging situations. Despite the angry parents fussing from the bleachers, the coach sees past the score today to realize this will pay out in the long run, and they realize it may not even be a benefit to the coach. The parent who is teaching their kid how to drive is purely focused on ensuring their kid can handle situations when the parent is no longer in the car. The manager who doesn’t fire the pit tech for causing a double gasket claim because they know the tech now knows more about the why than the person they are going to replace them with.
In a recent blog by Juliette Faraut, she keys in the trending mindset of employee growth. It seems that people are becoming more interested in working for startups where they can learn and grow, rather than big corporations. If this is the case, most likely you will have an advantage in the workforce because you can focus on their growth. There is only one problem ... What do they want to do? What are their challenges? What is their motivation? How in the world can you know these things?
Care! Take the time during their development (not their interview) to learn them, their history and the future. Mold your talks not around your profit margin, but the skills they will learn from you. These skills will ultimately place a positive impact on the P&L. If you don’t truly care about the people who support your goals every day, why would they want to support your goals? Because of a check? Nope! They can get a check anywhere. In the end, you will find success because they found success, because you cared.