So, you landed a “green horn” — a new, inexperienced tech. Congratulations! With today’s employment environment, count yourself lucky that the individual showed up and made it through your interview, drug testing and the rest of your hiring process. That’s great! But now, what are you going to do with him or her? Hopefully you have a plan in place for making this individual not only a great employee but a productive technician while not scaring them away by just putting them in a bay.
During the hiring process you should have gotten a good idea of the employee’s experience and knowledge. Just the same, I’d recommend that you double check it for your own safety and liabilities. Many individuals will tell you what you want to hear so that they can get their foot in the door. Another reason to recheck the capabilities of your new employee is to put together a training program for them. With this knowledge you can start from the point that they can most benefit from. In other words, if the individual shows some good basic knowledge and skill, you do not necessarily have to spend time on these things; instead, you can move forward to what they need to know.
My recommendation is to have the new tech shadow you or one of your seasoned techs for maybe a week at first. What I mean by shadowing is that the new employee is only to watch and pay attention to the tech they have been placed with. During this time the newbie is not permitted to do anything except watch and ask questions.
I know that some of you may question this method, especially since it will be costing you money, because the new tech isn’t bringing any cash in. You may ask, “What are they actually learning by shadowing?”
During this time the newbie will learn how your shop flow works along with your other procedures that are in place to get the vehicles in and out efficiently. Watching how the leading tech goes about their day, the new tech will learn the best ways of doing things instead of having to muddle through and figure it out on their own, which may cost you money in vehicle damage and inefficiency.
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The other advantage of shadowing and being told only to watch the lead tech is that you will see how well the individual follows directions and is motivated. Does the new person start ignoring the “just watch” rule? Do they hang close and ask questions? Do they look interested or are they mentally somewhere else?
If you find that they do not follow directions well or don’t look interested, you can address these items before you put them in a position where they could possibly cost you money or do real damage. Realize that for a young person, just watching can be a challenge and can indicate whether they will follow shop rules and best practices later.