IN THE APRIL ISSUE, I wrote about five technician types to look out for and how to handle them. I received good feedback on that column, so here are a few more.
How can you best use this information? Aside from identifying the personality and either rewarding or punishing behavior appropriately, some managers I know just give a troublesome employee an article like this, and through the process of self-discovery the "perp" makes a change for the better. It's amazing how many people don't know the goofy crap they're pulling. I know I didn't, and it took hearing about my obnoxious behavior from a friend to put me back on track.
Remember that you'll get your best results motivating with the carrot rather than the castration. Be respectful, model good behavior and expect the same from others.
Identifiers: Mannys like to help others and take newbies under their wings. They help other techs with their problems. They also tend to be pretty good about loaning their tools to the less-equipped. Mannys may not be the highest producers because all that helping uses up precious time.
Bottom Line: If your Manny is a good role model, his guidance can inspire others to do the same. I was lucky in this way at my first technical job as an Oldsmobile mechanic. I was assigned to a Manny (a seasoned line tech) who made sense out of my technical school training and showed me how to systematically work through a problem.
What to Do: Create a mentor program to reward Mannys for their efforts. Locate the newbie's work area next to Manny's and reward Manny for his tutelage with a percentage of the newbie's billable labor. My Manny at Krause Oldsmobile in Milwaukee, Wis., earned 25 percent of my billable labor. The mentorship lasted six months and then I was promoted to full line mechanic. That was a darn quick turn of events, due primarily to my Manny's expert guidance.
PRIMA DONNA PETES
Identifiers: Petes often have the most work experience and the biggest tool set. That's good, but Petes also have hugely self-
inflated egos. They treat others as inferiors, resist new procedures and policies, avoid update training, expect special treatment and are not team players.
Bottom Line: PPs offend others, are difficult to manage, ruin the team-spirited culture that's essential to smooth operations and can actually infect other techs so they become mini PPs (which is even worse). Just about every shop has a Pete — and he's a pain to manage.
What to Do: Make update training mandatory. I've seen a lot of Petes wake up and smell the reality while in the company of other hotshots who put their experience to shame. Hey, nobody knows it all. Remove individual incentives and create team incentives to force Petes to work for the common good. Don't coddle your Pete.
Identifiers: Nancys protect the customer's vehicle with tank and fender covers, they wear protective gear like a service belt and Mechanix gloves, and they remove jewelry that may scratch delicate paint. They attach tie-downs to the bike when on the lift as a safety precaution.
Bottom Line: Nancys may appear overly protective, but the result is they do little or no property damage and customers like seeing their baby well taken care of. Don't underestimate the power of protection. Several years ago a shop I know of fired its whole service department except the female tech because she took such good care of the customers' vehicles.
What to Do: Make sure Nancy's work area where customers can watch her at work. This will build your shop's reputation and grow clientele. To inspire other techs to exert more tender loving care, create a "Baby Care" fund where every month you reward those who didn't damage a vehicle with a paid lunch.
Identifiers: Sammys disagree with management directives, sometimes openly but more often behind the scenes. They gripe to co-workers and customers about their dissatisfactions, and they drag their feet or drop the ball on projects they don't like.
Bottom Line: Sammy's bad attitude causes dissent among staff, creates turf wars between departments and, at worst, when they puke on your customers, they create a lack of customer confidence that cuts deep into your business.
What to Do: Maybe it's hormonal? Well, it's still a good idea to counsel Sammy first in an effort to improve his attitude. Give him an opportunity to vent and try to find an agreeable solution. Set a 30-day deadline to correct his evil ways. If he doesn't measure up, cut your losses by letting him go to spread hate and malcontent in someone else's store.
Identifiers: Milton's work area is often a showpiece. His attire is neat and professional. The vehicles he services sparkle when done. He performs every checkpoint on a routine maintenance and causes no or extremely few comebacks. Unfortunately, his efficiency numbers may not be the highest. Attention to detail takes time.
Bottom Line: You can always trust Milton's work, and his customer satisfaction ratings are usually high, which is a great thing.
What to Do: Motivate Miltons to higher efficiency with threshold incentives, i.e., a bonus at 20 billable hours a week, then 30, 40, etc. In the end, even if the efficiency doesn't come up, live with it. Every service department needs perfectionists whose work can be trusted 100 percent.
Did I miss any personalities you're familiar with? Contact me at one the e-mail addresses listed in the box below.