How to Manage Senior Staff

Aug. 1, 2011

What can young operators do to successfully manage people older than they are without creating a sense of animosity?

Larry Edwards, Chairman, Edwards & Associates Consulting:

Employee animosities generally occur because they don’t feel like the manager is making the right decisions, the manager asks them to do things that are unreasonable, or the manager assigns tasks that employees feel they shouldn’t have to do. Employees feel animosity toward every manager, though, regardless of their age. So I don’t think the age of management has anything to do with successfully managing your people.

The biggest issue is whether or not your employees respect you. If they respect you, they’ll do what you ask them to do. The way you earn respect is by adhering to the predefined processes that you’ve established for your shop.

Have clearly defined processes for how you want estimates written, how you want parts ordered, how you want vehicles repaired, and how you want quality control inspections done, for example.

Work with your employees to make sure they understand and know how to carry out the processes the way you want them done. Meet with each employee regularly. Coach and counsel them on the right way to follow your processes. I refer to this as “inspecting what you expect.”

Make sure you communicate effectively when doing that coaching. It’s hard to get respect from your employees if you’re not willing to give it back. Most importantly, acknowledge and respect your technicians’ skills, knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, some employees change policies, practices, procedures and instructions. Tactfully remind the technician that their job is to fix the car, and your job is to give out the work.

As long as managers keep their communication with employees focused on the business, and not on personal issues, there shouldn’t be any problems.

Got a question? We’ll find an expert with an answer. Submit questions to [email protected]

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