Running a Shop Leadership

I’ve Got People

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My second son, Owen, was born June 1 of this year. As I write this, that’s eight days ago. He arrived nine days early and barely gave his mom enough time to get on the hospital bed before rushing into the world.

For those of you with children, you know that everything else stops temporarily when that baby is born. He or she becomes the focus, along with making sure mom is healthy and recovering well. Work takes an immediate backseat. And for any of you in a management position, that means some of your staff will have to step up immediately and take on an extra load for a while.

Sudden absences in leadership, even expected ones such as those related to the birth of a child, aren’t easy for many individuals in management positions. I’ve talked to some shop owners who can’t recall when they last took a vacation day. They just can’t let go. Some fear their shops simply cannot operate without them, which probably means they don’t have the right people on board.

I’ll be honest that one of my first thoughts while in the hospital after Owen was born was what terrible timing it was for the production schedule of FenderBender and its sister publication for the auto service industry, Ratchet+Wrench. There was a tremendous amount of work to do in the upcoming week and I would be limited in my involvement. I didn’t like creating extra work for my staff, which was already down a reporter at the time.

But luckily, I have a dependable, talented team that quickly showed  they were more than capable of carrying on without me. The extra work was a reality, but it wasn’t an insurmountable obstacle. The work got done. The magazines didn’t cease to be.

Along with having the right people in the right seats here, we also have a host of standard operating procedures that ensure any task can be completed should someone be out. Those procedures are updated frequently and have come in handy on numerous occasions, including this one. 

I think it’s typical for owners and managers to worry about the well-being of their staff and business if they’re out, but it’s nice to know that I don’t have to. Can you say the same?

If not, think about where the issues lie—do you have the right people in the right positions? Are your processes foolproof? Or, do you need to get over your own misconceptions about your inability to step away? For your own sanity and the shop’s health, you should be able to take that step. You never know when you might have no other choice. 

Jake Weyer, Editor

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