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How to lead your employees through shop improvements, success

Monday, September 25, 2017 - 06:00
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How do you lead a team to success? What is it that makes some companies so successful yet others barely survive. I will not answer that with complete totality today. However, I will share some insights I have learned over my 16-year journey as an entrepreneur.

I am a life-long learner and specifically on the topic of leadership. I believe we are all called to be leaders, no matter what our title.  We should all operate with a mindset to influence others in a positive way.

How do we lead our teams of collision repair experts to be champions? How do we not only survive in today’s market but also prosper? Ultimately, that is what we desire, to prosper. What we do not want to do is continue down the path of putting out fires each day, resolving needless conflict, living in constant negativity and getting the same mediocre results. We want more!

Do you want to improve cycle time in your shop, or maybe increase sales, improve sales mix? Whatever it is you want to improve or accomplish, it starts with you, the leader.

Cast Vision

Cast clear, concise vision. Explain the reason your business exist. I will not spend a lot of time on this subject since I have discussed this in length in other articles. Bottom line, people will not follow you if you cannot tell them where you want to go and why.

Coach

I recently attended our annual Business Council Symposium and had the opportunity to listen to Ray Evernham share about his successes in NASCAR, life, business and family. He spoke about his winning team and said “Champions are not born, they are made.” You may not feel you have a team of champions right now, but it is up to you to develop a team of champions.   

Communication

As a leader, you are a coach, mentor, and cheerleader. If your team is not getting the results you want, start with you.  Are you setting clear expectations? Does everyone on the team know what the cycle time goal is for your shop? Do you talk about it daily? Do you share results? The first ten minutes of our morning release meeting every Wednesday is dedicated to KPI review. We give a presentation to all team members outlining sales goals, actual sales, cycle time goals, actual cycle time and several other key performance indicators that are important to our business. Find ways to communicate your vision and goals consistently. 

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Once you have communicated the goal, ask questions and listen intently to ensure everyone heard what you intended to communicate. Simply because you said something does not mean you communicated effectively. In every one of our relationships, whether it is professional or personal, there have been times when we communicated something and the other person heard something completely different than what we intended to communicate. 

As Mike Jones, President of Discover Leadership, says “Be in the moment.” When communicating, stop everything else.  Do not check text messages on your phone, do not attempt to multi-task, listen with the intent to understand. It is just as important, if not more important, for you to listen intently than speak. 

Stop the Blame Game and Equip People to Succeed

Author and Pastor Craig Groeschel says “A great leader always takes responsibility.” Instead of casting blame, cast vision. When things go wrong, it is so easy for us to point the finger to other people. Ultimately, as a leader in your organization it is up to you to take responsibility.

Here is an example of how to make the shift: 

  • Are vehicles getting delivered to customers without proper documentation in the files of insurance approval on supplements?
    • Show them why it matters.  Why does it matter to your business to have documentation on file before the vehicle is delivered to the customer?  
    • Show them the process and ask questions that will help you understand if there is a process problem that is hindering this from happening.  Maybe the process problem is not consistent 100% disassembly; which is causing supplements late in the repair process and making it difficult to obtain the insurance supplement before the vehicle is ready to be delivered. 
    • Tell them again, and again, and again.  Constantly reinforce the idea but not in a negative or nagging way.  Keep it consistently in the conversation; therefore everyone on the team understands the importance. 
    • Celebrate forward progress.  Make a big deal when people get it right.  Make sure the only time they hear from you is not when something is going wrong. 
    • Tell stories about someone who gets it right.   Praise team members publicly, this could be in the morning release meeting, internal training meetings, simply standing around as a group talking, internal newsletter or an email to all team members highlighting a specific win.

If you want to see change in your organization, the change must start with you.  Do you want to improve culture, remove negativity, develop champions?  Then it starts with you – you have to stop being negative; not just with the words you say but with the thoughts you allow in your mind, your body language, and the tone of your voice.  We must cast vision, communicate effectively, listen to understand, stop blaming others when things go wrong, revive your passion if it has been lost, lead with enthusiasm, do what others won’t, be disciplined and determined to focus on positive outcomes.  What you look for, you will find. 

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