In the day-to-day processes of operating a busy service department, even the best leaders and managers can lose track of big-picture concepts, and some of the biggest factors to keep track of are your team’s performance, attitude and morale. As a leader, your team looks to you to set the pace and create the atmosphere where they work to earn their living. By stepping back from time to time and reading the room, you might be surprised by what you find. Here are some areas you might examine to take the temperature of your department.
You don’t have to stick your nose into your team member’s business, but it is important for a leader to not only get to know his or her employees in the business setting, but to learn about them as people and what’s going on in their lives. Are they married or getting married? Do they have kids? What hobbies or interests do they have outside the workplace? Not only does this help you in your interactions with them, but will also allow you to see potential problems before they can affect job performance. Is one of your techs expecting a new baby? Is one of your service advisors going through a divorce? Is an illness of a family member going to necessitate some scheduling changes? By seeing the group of individuals who make up your team, you’ll forge stronger bonds and a better work environment.
You should have regular, formal job performance reviews, but don’t just stop there. Make a point to check in with them regularly on an informal basis. Ask their opinions. See if they’re having problems with equipment or need more training in a certain area. Make it a conversation rather than an interview. You’ll often get more information sharing a cup of coffee or shooting the breeze for five or 10 minutes during some downtime than you will with official forms.
Have Their Backs
Part of being a team leader is not only telling your team that you’re on their side but showing them that you have their best interests at heart. If they need upgraded equipment or more training, show them you’ll go to bat for them by speaking to upper management. Even if the answer is “no,” you’ll at least let your people know that you want what they want.
Watch the Process
While it’s important to trust your people and their ability to do their jobs, follow one customer’s progress through your service department and watch every step to see how it’s performed. Are your service advisors greeting your customers quickly and professionally? After the customer hands the car off to your department, are repairs and maintenance completed quickly and completely? Is the work needed being properly described to the customer? Is your customer suitably thanked for their business and are correct follow-up procedures being performed? You don’t have to look over your people’s shoulders during this process, but keep an eye on one customer’s journey and really see what the process looks like. What works well — make sure you catch your people doing something good — and what could be improved?
Great leaders get involved with their teams on a deeper level than those willing to “hope for the best.” Take some time to see what’s really going on in your service department and you’ll know where you and your team stands.