Picture two fields that are separated slightly by a thin forest. Both fields are about the same size and both can be seen while standing in the other field. However, one field is lush and green and fragrant, while the other is pale, dusty and sparse. When the wind blows, the green field appears to play in the wind, swaying back and forth, while the other field suffers damage from uprooted plants and dust clouds. Both fields have had the exact same opportunity to receive water, and yet only one of the fields is healthy. Why?
The picture provided is commonplace in the collision industry. There are many shops often separated only by a small thin forest of other businesses and yet one flourishes and grows while the other only exists or survives. What is ultimately the difference in the businesses? It’s the amount of water used to grow. Water is an essential life-giving sustenance. Without water things shrivel and die. The employee shortage in the industry is daunting and why it is so important to ensure that as a business owner or manager you are providing your employees with the water they need to grow.
In nature, water comes in many forms as rain, steam, ice and snow. To be successful and enable growth of the business, you, too, must pour out life-giving water to employees in multiple forms. First, focus on catching people doing things right. Notice and take time to verbally acknowledge a great corrosion protection job, an awesome CSI comment or when an employee does something outside of their job description without being asked. These moments of acknowledgement and praise can flood an employee’s heart and begin to plant deep roots within your company’s field. Second, it is important to set clear expectations for performance. This is a two-way street and communication is essential.
To grow employees, they must know what is needed and expected from them, and in turn, you must know what they need and expect from you. Knowing what each other expect and need is a powerful relationship that nurtures success. The third way to provide water for your employees is by meeting with them regularly. Expectations that are set and never checked seldom live up to desires. Providing employees with quick check-ins to see how they are performing provides great opportunity for candid dialog and reinforces commitments made to expectations. This is also an opportunity to network, learn and engage with the most valuable resource in the business — people. Business climates and goals change over time so having formal scheduled reviews allows for sharing of a refined vision, refreshed expectations and gathering input from employees. The fourth way to nourish employees is through celebration. Celebrating with employees when they learn or grow both professionally and personally is very powerful. Celebration provides recognition, support and affirmation of achievement. People can feel lonely going through life, and celebrating learning and growth lets people know that they are not alone in the journey and that people are supporting and cheering for their success.
The fifth way to grow prosperous employees is by being personal. Work can be stressful and hectic, but that is no excuse to be cold and disengaged. Employees may be doing amazing things outside of work, such as volunteering, charity work or adoption. They could also be going through a difficult season with family, money, a divorce or ailment. Being professionally interested in an employee’s wellbeing allows for deeper connections and feelings of value and worth. It is important to remain professional when getting to know employees personally so as not to be distracted by inclusion in drama or a dilution in authority. The final way to nurture employees is by holding them accountable. Accountability is not about telling someone they did something wrong, instead accountability is acknowledging a failed attempt and coming to an agreement about how to improve the result next time. This method of accountability shows interest, care and support toward a goal.
Providing the right forms of water for your employees will make the difference in the color, fragrance and health of your field. Water wisely and the deep roots that grow will simply play in the wind, enjoying the soil they are planted in, producing a lush and beautiful field. Choose to not provide enough water and you will find your technicians uprooting in the wind, blowing to greener pastures, leaving gaps and dust clouds in their absence. Remember, running a business is about growing people, not growth. Grow your team to grow your business. The opportunity for watering is equal, choose wisely.