January '19

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30 THE SHOP JANUARY 2019 be detrimental, especially if the shop special- izes in labor-intensive skills such as sunroof installations. Would you be able to find an acceptable replacement for an employee who was capable of such a specific install? We're an evolving industry, and we're changing with technology as we adapt for the next generation. Though there may be differences behind what drives employees statistically between generations, there are ways to accommodate everyone equally. The little things an employer does throughout the year, whether business is busy or slow, will make a difference when forming long-term relationships with staff members, regardless of generation. KNOW YOUR EMPLOYEES Having a shop filled with long-term employees means this concept can succeed. If your shop has doubled in size and you want your new employees to respect what you've worked so hard to build, owners and management must be present and available. In the automotive industry, things can change drastically—as we learned in 2007—and you want to know you have a strong team going into battle. Growing a business in the automotive industry means planning and adapting for future technology and the generations of buyers to come. However, business owners and management should be applying this concept internally as well. Expanding with new hires may ultimately lead to a healthy blend between generations, implementing change where needed. According to a 2018 article in Forbes, Why Leaders Need to Embrace Employee Motivation, millennials don't just work for a paycheck; they want a purpose. Meanwhile, Generation Z wants to make a difference, but striving and thriving are even more important. So, how do you motivate your staff when you're dealing with different generations with different expectations? There are many possible solutions, but one staple that won't cost you money is to simply offer your time. Take the time to get to know your employees and listen to them, no matter how large of a shop you own. If you have an employee giving you sug- gestions, whether they're a new employee or have been with you a while, listen. Your shop may be thriving after 30 years of busi- ness, but adapting to the future is critical, so it pays to listen to what they have to say. Whether you agree with their ideas or not, listening and creating an environment for an employee to share their opinion is important and creates a strong bond. My brother and I are second-generation business owners as well as millennials, and our company has employees from multiple generations. We often ask our installers their thoughts on new products. We want them to know their opinions matter, espe- cially since they are the ones working daily with our core products. If they think a product will have issues, we listen. Recently, I had a conversation with an employee who came to me with a great idea for a different avenue of business. I'm currently exploring a few of his ideas, and I told him that if we get things up and run- ning, I'll make it his department. TEAM BUILDING I can honestly say, I remember smashing a water balloon in one of our manager's faces when I was 7 years old. When I was a child, I couldn't wait for our company picnics during the summer. We'd spend the entire day playing volleyball and softball, having water balloon fights and grilling out until the sun went down. We'd also go to the shop every Saturday when I was a kid. Our GM would hold band practice there and everyone would come to watch and hang out. Teambuilding is an essential component when it comes to what drives motivation in the workplace. Aside from a holiday party once a year, bringing your staff together outside of the regular work chaos makes for a great bonding opportunity. Whether business is busy or slow, my brother's taken the guys out for wings on Fridays after work to show appreciation. A few summers back, we had a party with our staff and their families at Medieval Times, which brought our employees' fami- lies and children together. It's important— the family members of your employees learn to understand their loved ones' work community and the people they spend most of their week around. If you have a large staff, cost and coor- dination may be an issue. There are cost- efficient ways to show appreciation for your employees during work hours. During the spring and summer our shop has a barbecue every other Friday. We fire- up the charcoal grill out back and I run out and grab burgers and brats. We set the table up with side dishes family-style and have a lunch with our entire staff. We all eat together and talk openly about the week. Creating a casual setting for employees to communicate is important. Our drivers will tell our installers how much a dealership loved their leather, for example. It's encour- aging to hear the responses upon deliveries. Another way to show appreciation is during an employee's birthday. We bring in a cake or cupcakes and print out funny birthday signs and put them all over the lunch room. I see them taped to their tool- boxes still, so I know it's appreciated. I'm thankful to have employees who care, and I recognize the uniqueness of our staff. Employee motivation is a major compo- nent in all companies, whether you're a large corporation or a small business. Implement the simple things with your staff to show appreciation and you will feel valued in return. COURTNEY LEIGH PAHLKE and her brother are second- generation partners of their father's 43-year-old company, Top Coverage. Their locations service nearly 350 dealerships in Chicago and throughout Illinois, where they work hard to grow their father's empire. Learn more at Bringing your staff together outside of the regular work chaos makes for a great bonding opportunity. Show Your Appreciation

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