As a shop owner or operator, you’ve walked the shop floor thousands of times. You can probably even walk the same path in your sleep.
Sure, you can walk the shop floor but while you do, can you also point to a success that your team is accomplishing right at this moment?
A worker that feels appreciated will often perform better than expected, says Kevin Bonazew, collision industry consultant for CCARS Inc. with over 41 years of experience in the automotive industry.
Data supports the theory. A 2016 Gallup workplace study discovered that employee recognition is a low-cost endeavor that can lead to a high pay-off. About 28 percent of respondents said the most memorable recognition comes from an employee’s manager.
Not only do employees need recognition to thrive, a 2018 Gallup study found that employees also need good, specific recognition. Right now, only three in 10 U.S. employees strongly agree that, within the last seven days, they have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
Bonazew admits that recognizing good work was hard to come by in the industry in the past, but nowadays owners and operators are more likely to acknowledge that they don’t want a good technician walking out the door because they didn’t feel happy or supported.
“It’s not just a one time deal, either,” Bonazew says. “A owner needs to be honest and open and care about it.”
Below, Bonazew provides his top tips to offering employees recognition to avoid losing top performers.
As told to Melissa Steinken
1) Provide positive feedback in person.
Put in the effort and sit down in person with the technician. I’ve noticed a lot of times, during my consulting, that a body shop operator believes their technician is having no issues but there’s actually a weird disconnect taking place between the technician and the front office.
As a leader, you need to take those five minutes or so and verbally talk to the employee. Then, let the technician know this is your feedback and give the technician an opportunity to share. When you’re providing positive feedback, avoid constructive criticism. These are two separate conversations and criticism can be delivered at a different time.
Words to not use in this conversation include “never”, and “always”. These words can be misinterpreted by the employee as he or she perpetually acting correctly or never acting the right way. Keep it in the moment. (See Sidebar: Phrases to Avoid in One-On-One Talks)
2) Have conversations focused solely on career paths.
It’s important to continuously check in with the team and ask them where they see their career in the future. We have a serious technician shortage right now and a lot of the issues in that shortage can be fixed by touching base with the employee. Recognize where the employee is at with regard to their goal for training, skills and position in the shop.
Talk to the employee about their objectives. Bring any resources you have with you to the meeting so you can effectively build a career path with the employee and not for the employee.
3) Celebrate even the small successes.
Say a technician undergoes training and finishes the course. If the technician accomplishes even a task as small as annual training, celebrate that fact. If the technician receives a certificate for the training, hang up the certificate in the shop.
You can also post those types of accomplishments on social media. Bring the team into the celebration and conversation by tagging the recipient in the post.
4) Deliver news to the team every day.
If you receive positive feedback for a repair well done, share that with the team. Offer praise as soon as you can. Acknowledgement given 6 months after the fact loses its effect. Let the team know the customer appreciated the hard work that went into the repair. There’s no cost involved in simply sharing positive news with your team.
Remember that you want to be genuine and realistic. Don’t overdo the praise because it might make you seem as if you aren’t sincere.
5) Check in with your management staff.
If you’re a leader that works more remotely, make the most of the time you are in the shop. Talk to your managers. They’ll be able to tell you who is doing an excellent job and who’s struggling. If they share news of someone exceeding expectations, make a point to walk over and thank that person.
Also, take time to walk the shop floor. Keep your eyes open for someone performing a repair very well and point it out.