As I have gotten older, my interest in history has grown exponentially, and I have become an addict of the History Channel on cable. Recently, I was watching “The Men that Built America.” It’s a fascinating show, and besides learning a great deal about the Rockefellers, the Vanderbilits and the Carnegies, a segment reminded me of the importance of team building.
After the civil war, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie clawed and fought his way to the top. He never gave up on his dreams and showed unbelievable conviction in anything he undertook. He believed nothing was impossible. Over time, he began to lose focus and wanted to become the richest man in America. Even though generally regarded by his employees as a fair and kind boss, Carnegie veered from that philosophy and hired a ruthless manager to take over his mills. The manager pushed his men to their limits, forcing them to work 12-hour days, six days a week. Eventually, the men revolted and Carnegie nearly lost everything by ignoring his team.
I always understood the importance of team, but this series helped reinforce just how important the concept is.
Team building applies in all walks of life — sports, business, and yes, in a collision shop environment as well. Think about the benefits of team building as if your shop was a football team. The best football clubs are always the ones with the best-assembled team, not necessarily the ones with all the stars. A group of people that work well together, that truly gel as a team, can achieve great things. Building a great team isn't easy. If it was, head coaches wouldn't be getting paid what they are to build them. In reality, shop mangers or owners are like a head coach and need to build the best team possible to achieve success.
Belonging to a team can result in feeling part of something larger than yourself. In a team-oriented environment, you contribute to the overall success of your shop. Even though your people all have a specific job function and belong to a specific department, they are unified with other team members to accomplish team objectives. So what can we do to build a successful team?
- Set clear expectations. It is important to clearly define the goals of the team overall and the responsibilities of the individual team members. Every person should know what is expected of him/her in their role and how that role will affect the success of the overall team. When considering your team building exercises, always make sure that clear and concise expectations are addressed. This process should be two fold: both one on one, and in a group. Hold group meetings to discuss your expectations and explain what every member is expected to do. In individual meetings, you can get into the specifics required of each position in greater detail. Not every team member needs to know all the details of every other position, just the basics.
Remember, every employee you have is important. If they are not, you shouldn't have them on your team. Think about this example: What if your detailer/clean-up guy calls off and you have 10 deliveries for the day? Will that absence remind you of just how important your clean-up guy is? You bet!