Tire dealers must define their expectations clearly when interviewing prospective new hires. Never assume that the person on the other side of the desk knows what the phrase "good reliable worker" really means.
In my last column, I described the ongoing problems bosses encounter finding hirable workers today. Many owners and managers tell me that hiring people is the highest-anxiety task they face. The reason, they assure me, can be summed up in one expression: "Generation X!"
I'm a Baby Boomer, as are many Tire Business readers. My gut feeling is that most of us grew up hearing first-hand accounts of the hardships our parents lived through, including a catastrophic depression and a horrific world war.
Newsman Tom Brokaw examined our parents' spirit, resourcefulness and perseverance in his best-seller, The Greatest Generation. The runaway success of that book suggests just how misunderstood, forgotten, or under appreciated our parents' values had become. Work ethic is certainly paramount among those values.
The younger folks who comprise the so-called Generation X were lucky enough to be born into possibly the most-affluent society in history. They grew up being bombarded by highly focused advertising from the sharpest marketing minds on the planet. The persistent message was two-fold: Not only can you have it all, you're actually entitled to it all!
The more carefully you listen to Gen-X'ers, the more obvious the impact of this message becomes. To me, understanding this impact is essential to dealing with these youngsters more effectively. Everywhere they turn, they're told they have to have it all.
A hallmark of many Boomers' upbringing was our parents' insistence that, in fact, we could not have everything we saw on TV or heard about on the radio. We were taught priorities such as putting bread on the table, getting an education, buying a decent home, etc. Those little niceties we coveted were usually way down the priority list.
As Mr. Shakespeare used to say, "There's the rub." Tackling the priorities required getting and holding a job. What's more, Boomers were typically taught to accept beginning at the bottom. When you're the new guy on the job, keep your mouth shut, your ears open and respect your superiors.
Sadly, I believe that many Boomers failed to ingrain these values and precepts in their offspring, the Gen-X kids. I'm convinced that now we're reaping the bitter harvest of that failure.
But does this failure absolve Gen-X'ers of their responsibilities? Does it validate the cloak of psychobabble with which these young people try to protect themselves? I answer "no" to all counts.
I've absolutely had it with the excuses such as, "They're latch-key children" or "They're the product of single-parent homes," et al. Enough already!
Unfortunately, if these kids didn't get the basics at home, then you must prepare yourself to administer them at work.
Begin by defining the expectations mature, working adults have of a new hire. Spell it out in a mission statement or list of responsibilities/expectations. Then require a prospective hire to read this document during a job interview and explain it to you in his or her own words.
At the very least, my expectations document would include the following themes:
First, I don't care if you had one parent, two parents or no parents. When you're at my dealership, the boss is your mommy, daddy, sister and worst nightmare if you goof off.
Second, your momma may call you a little gift from God, but I'm calling you an unskilled little worm who hasn't proven a thing to me yet—but who has all the opportunity in the world to show me what he or she can really do in this business.
Third, the moment you sign onto this wagon train, you're expected to be here first day, every day at 7:30 for an 8:00 a.m. opening—well rested and sober as a judge. Death is the only excuse for tardiness or absenteeism.
Fourth, you don't enjoy your pastimes and hobbies at the expense of this dealership. We won't turn our schedule upside-down just to accommodate your softball league or dirt-bike racing schedules. Customers expect us to be present and accounted for when they need us.
If such an expectations statement unnerves the prospective hire, he isn't a prospect—he's a suspect.