Polite, civil and respectful speech always fosters a pleasant work environment.
In turn, the boss is responsible for creating and maintaining a civil atmosphere.
Mandating courteous, civil behavior is more than some dream concept or afterthought. Rather, it's a common trait among successful businesses, especially those that have built local reputations for being desirable places to work.
That kind of reputation also boosts worker loyalty and eases the long-term task of recruiting desirable new employees.
During my travels reporting on the automotive service industry, I often have heard discouraging comments from tire dealers and service shop owners. Namely, some believe that standards of behavior for their businesses have always been much lower than those of other service providers.
To me, that's a cheap excuse.
Over the years, I have watched bosses pretend that the mindless, knuckle-dragger stereotype didn't exist. But it does, and part of that stereotype often includes loud, vile, abrasive, disrespectful speech. (Forget for the moment that erasing this stereotype is vital to meeting and exceeding motorists' expectations.)
Before I proceed, let me restate the larger picture because it goes far and beyond a manager's or worker's trash mouth.
A pleasant work atmosphere is and always has been vital to creating and maintaining a loyal workforce. Ultimately, a loyal crew is more productive and profitable than simply shuttling warm bodies through your business. Indeed, recruiting and retraining are costly, stressful tasks.
I have emphasized in previous columns that employees spend more time at work than they do at home. Considering this fact, desirable employees always migrate toward jobs with more-pleasant, lower-stress environments.
This doesn't mean these folks don't work hard—to the contrary, they'll scale walls for you—but they recoil from needless stress, strife and disrespect.
Loud, abrasive, abusive bosses and co-workers are a prime cause of a miserable workplace. Eventually, this misery breeds employee turnover.
Worse yet, it also brews negative word-of-mouth about your shop.
If there's one constant in a service business, it's the need to recruit and keep capable, talented workers.
Positive, encouraging word-of-mouth advertising among other auto service facilities should be your best recruiting tool. But it's challenging to keep capable people — let alone garner new blood — when your place has an unpleasant air about it.
Suppose negative impressions continue traveling the local, auto service grapevine. Once bad opinions have gone out, it's impossible to reel them back.
Regardless of whatever you're doing to upgrade your business, be sure you coach the entire staff that words really matter. Once the wrong—or the tactless—words are spoken, they're spoken—period.
Politely but firmly groom workers to think twice before blurting out something they'll regret in a moment.
We're all human; we all make mistakes. But an occasional blunder is not the same as an otherwise-capable worker who simply never learned how to speak civilly to other people (including bosses and customers).
Sadly, no one has ever cautioned this person—let alone coached him or her — to refine their speech.
Before I wrap up this piece, I urge readers to be mindful of volume. It's one thing to yell over the noise of the shop from time-to-time. But beyond that, noise is negative.
Experience has shown that people who truly are knowledgeable, confident, direct and trustworthy rarely raise their voices. It's not necessary.
Last but not least, recognize the ultimate impact of loud, abrasive, abusive speech on your customers.
A typical customer isn't paying to endure such talk.
Furthermore, they'll likely admit that they can hear that breed of noise at a lot of other places. They don't need to hear it at your business.