How to Become a Better Mentor
As the collision director at Tom Bush Collision Center in Jacksonville, Fla., DeWayne White has developed close relationships with all 28 of his staff members. In fact, he’s seen many of those start in lower positions and grow into more senior roles, some even now leading their own facilities. Just as mentoring was an important part of growth when White was new to the industry, so too has he sought to repay the favor to others now that he’s in his management role at the $4.5 million-per-year shop. White details his tips for properly mentoring employees, be it with a structured or more organic approach.
One of our biggest ideals is leading by example. If it’s something I expect someone to do, then I need to show that I’m willing to do it, too. If it’s doing it along with them, if it’s a particular way we write our supplements—we do it together. At least they feel comfortable that they are confident in doing it the way we want it done as an organization.
It’s very hard to bring someone who doesn’t have some experience in all the positions and doesn’t do production. If you’re bringing someone in green, it’s extremely hard to bring them up to speed. We brought in last year a completely green parts personnel. We tried a similar process with them and we’ve had huge success. On the parts side, learn from the ground up. They didn’t come in and start on parts. They worked along the parts to see how they’re ordered. That way if something comes in damaged, what are the steps we go through next? What do the insurance adjusters look for? After he works with the writers, we handle just shipping and receiving. Checking in the parts right after they hit the door. He would have an understanding of, if you missed the bumper and it has two exhaust holes instead of one, we now own that bumper. It kind of helped define the way he does it. He then did invoicing and learned what our goals are and how we get to them. He started last June and this March was when he started ordering the parts for the facility. Now when he run into a problem with a part, he understands he speaks to the writer about the supplement.
Part of this is to make sure you’re hiring quality people, you’re not just hiring on a need. Not just the first person that applies for the job. It’s just making sure they understand this person can impact their job. It can be positive or negative. I have a great group of people I’ve had no troubles having the buy in. When they hear questions, they get involved.
One position really doesn’t lead to the next. If you have a CSR, could she transition into an estimator? We’ve recently had that happen and it’s because she learned the importance of communication. She just took over her own facility in January. We’ve just now hired her replacement.
I think you have to get to know the person and show that you genuinely care. They will, in return, open up. There are people that need extreme structure; you’re going to do A-B-C-D in this order. There are people that need really in-depth explanations. The younger people that I’m training, the more explanation they need to hear the why. It definitely took time to learn that. I had one way for every person. I quickly found out that way that wasn’t going to work.