Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Don't Pull the Trigger! by Robert Spitz, Management Success!

Robert Spitz
Snr VP Business Dev
Management Success!

One late afternoon, I was working in my office in Glendale, California, when I got a call from a client back in Baltimore. It was about 8:00 pm his time, and he sounded aggravated and a little inebriated. He said, “I’m going to read you something that I’m going to give to my lead tech tomorrow morning! I’m not putting up with this B.S. any more!” I let him read me this scathing letter that was guaranteed to lose a tech that had been with him for years.

He vented for a while, and when he finally wound down, I calmly asked him, “What’s going on?” He went on about this once-upon-a-time great tech that had now become a belligerent, uncooperative, pain-in-the-butt!

I asked him if he would put down his saber for a minute and allow me to ask him some questions. He agreed reluctantly, but told me it did not matter what I said, “This guy is history! And if the service writer doesn’t snap out of it, he’s next!”

I told him, “Fair enough,” and then started to pull the string which was dangling in front of my face. Something big must have changed with this tech, and I needed to find out what it was.

So, I proceeded to pull on this string by continuing with my questions:

“When did his attitude change? What was going on in the shop at that time?
Did you hire anyone new prior to the attitude change?” 
This last question got his attention. “You know, I hired a new tech about two weeks prior to the start of the problem.” “Oh really?” I said. “Tell me about him.” 

Turns out, he had hired a new tech about two months ago. The guy had good references and seemed to know his business, but in hindsight, the owner admitted there were some weird things about him - nothing he could put his finger on, but just an odd feeling about the guy.

His first couple of weeks, everything seemed fine, but then he realized some little changes beginning to appear. Even in his inebriated state, the light was coming on!

“You know, I just realized my top tech has stopped joining us at lunch. He and the new tech got buddy-buddy and are always going out to lunch together. This is also around the same time that [the top tech] started having trouble with the service writer. These guys used to get along, but now they’re at each other's throats.”

At this point, I told him that maybe he was pointing his gun at the wrong target. I wanted him to cool off and do some more inspecting. I sent him a special survey to use with all of his employees. This survey was developed over years of working with people and employees, and it always gets to the heart of the matter.

When we got the surveys done, the owner was shocked at the results and the comments by the other employees, and he realized that he was about to make a huge mistake in his employee management.

I heard from him a couple of weeks later, and he was a changed man! He could now laugh about it, and he admitted something to me that made me smile. He said,”You know, I thought you were way off base, but it turned out you were right on the money. I was about to fire two of my best people over this guy. I found out from another shop owner that this guy has a nickname. You want to know what it is? 'Instigator'!”

Making decisions, especially important ones about employees is not something you want to do half-cocked. Employee management is tough, and you need to be armed with the correct information before you make any moves. If you do no other training this year, get trained in how to handle employees. Your life will greatly improve. 

Wishing you success!
Robert Spitz