Exceptional technicians are career-minded; average to poor ones are simply job-minded.
This seemingly small but critical distinction may help owners and managers separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff during personnel decisions.
Basically, identifying career-minded workers pinpoints the people in whom you should invest for the long term. This investment includes ongoing training as well as better pay incentive plans, better benefits packages and more perks more often. Here's the scoop.
Some tire dealers and service shop operators I meet seem to think they need a human resource expert in order to spot the career-minded workers-not to mention those employees who realistically might be groomed from clock-watching status into career-mindedness. But experience shows that if you're paying attention, the winners and prospective winners are usually apparent after six to eight months of observation.
First, don't count on a career-minded employee to verbalize his or her goals. Don't expect them to advertise their philosophy with lapel buttons or bumper stickers. These top-flight workers are far more likely to let their actions speak for them. (Actions usually do speak louder than words.)
For instance, the overall attitude and work ethic of the career-minded employee speaks volumes on that person's behalf. The career-type person is the antithesis of the clock-watcher; he or she is usually early to work. In the worst case, this worker is always on time.
The career-minded person is much more focused on finishing a repair job correctly than in bolting the premises promptly at five o'clock. This technician's family understands that his or her earnings and reputation ride on doing the job correctly the first time. Consequently, the family is prepared for the occasional late arrival.
Coming home later than expected now and then is treated as a fact of life rather than a personal affront to the spouse and children.
Sadly, this concern for quality and promptness is often mislabeled as taking work too seriously and/or not taking the family seriously enough. (I've found that the people leveling these accusations usually are in the worst position to comment on issues such as work ethic, dedication, etc.)
Another trait shown by the career-minded person is treating company property, such as special tools and equipment, as if it was his or her own. (Actually, this is usually a personal as well as professional philosophy.) The career-focused worker always appreciates that his or her well-being is directly tied to the overall health of the service shop or tire dealership. Abused or broken shop gear costs everyone money because it reduces both productivity and efficiency.
At the same time, doing the work correctly the first time benefits everyone by helping to build and maintain the business' reputation.
Furthermore, career-minded workers relish the opportunity to learn new things. They embrace update training rather than complain about it. These techs recognize a direct relationship between ongoing training and efficiency scores.
The more he or she learns, the greater the chances of generating and maintaining stellar efficiency numbers. In other words, more learning equals better efficiency equals better income.
Once again, the career-minded technician has prepped his or her family for the 40 hours or so of training that is undertaken every year. Plans and schedules for sitters, meals, etc., are worked out. The occasional evening or Saturday sacrificed to training events is recognized for what it is-a relatively minor inconvenience for the greater welfare of the entire family.
To me, ongoing update training is not an issue when the house is paid for, the college funds are snowballing enough to impress Warren Buffett and the kids already attend the best schools in the city. (The family's weary of Christmas in Antigua, so it's back to Waikiki this year.)
All kidding aside, career-minded workers see a future for their families, and it isn't a lifetime of living paycheck to paycheck.